A California property owner is facing a nearly $500,000 fine after his tenants began growing marijuana without his knowledge.
Property owner Rodney Rose of Sacramento had rented a home to an older couple for more than a decade. He collected rent in person each month, reports KRON 4.
He said it was a good business relationship until the couple allowed their nephew to move in. Rose said the nephew began cultivating Cannabis.
Then Rose got a bill in the mail, from the city of Sacramento, “which I thought was a joke,” reports KRON 4.
Rose said electricity usage spikes tipped off Sacramento Municipal Utility District to the marijuana grow. Eventually, Sacramento police raided the house.
What A Surprise!
Rose said he didn’t know there was any problem until that bill — for half a million bucks! —came with no explanation.
In total, the City of Sacramento fined him close to $500,000. They fined his tenants $500.
Rose called the city. They said his window to appeal the fine had already passed.
“It was the first time I’d even heard about it. I never knew about the whole issue,” Rose explained.
Rose said he did get an extension and appealed the fine.
His tenants even told police that he had no knowledge of marijuana growing on his property.
“Absolutely no consideration of anything, per his ruling, was given on our behalf,” Rose explained. “The ordinance that I was held under was whether I knew about this or not, you’re guilty. So, there’s literally no winning.”
FOX40 contacted the city attorney’s office for comment but has not yet heard back.
Sacramento Makes Big Bucks On This Nonsense
Attorney Mark Reichel said the Sacramento originally intended the steep fines for large criminal trafficking organizations. These traffickers move illegal substances across state lines.
“The city of Sacramento probably has the most aggressive, in the state of California, city administrative fines and penalties when they catch you growing marijuana without a permit,” Reichel explained. “The city council heard about this about two years ago and put something in the works for the innocent-owner defense.
“Some of the judges in Sacramento found this to be really abusive so they struck the law a few times,” Reichel said. ”They changed it in December of 2019. Now, innocent owners can give proof that they were an innocent owner. They didn’t know anything about this.”
Rose, who has worked in real estate as a branch manager and loan officer, is now appealing his case to the state courts.
“I’d like to think I’m aware and I knew nothing of this ordinance that the city has,” he said. “I’m just shocked that that’s how they wish to conduct business.”
Lucrative Cashflow To The Tune Of $94 Million
Attorney Reichel said there are many cases like Rose’s in Sacramento. It seems they’ve availed themselves of a lucrative cash flow. According to Reichel, Sacramento has the highest revenue of this type in the entire state.
Sacramento fined homeowners a whopping $94 million since August 2017, a 2019 investigation by public radio’s KPBS revealed. Many said they had no knowledge of the unlicensed marijuana growing operations taking place inside their properties.
SMUD had collected $5.5 million from those fines, as hundreds of property owners have challenged more than $50 million of the penalties. Dozens of them say they rented to tenants who operated the illegal grows without their knowledge, despite following best practices as a landlord.
“Some critics allege the city’s enforcement efforts have turned into a money-making scheme,” KPBS drily noted. Ya think?