Tenants of Ponderosa Hotel are on edge after the owner of the motel and the Wild Orchid strip club, Kamy Keshmiri, threatened to raise their rent. The threat comes after the Reno City Council proposed ordinances late last year aimed at removing strip clubs from downtown.

The tenants of the hotel were notified in a letter written by Keshmiri detailing the expenses involved when it comes to running both establishments. According to Keshmiri, tenants at the Ponderosa Hotel are paying roughly half of what it costs to live in Midtown.

Keshmiri noted in the letter that the Wild Orchid used to be the source of income needed to maintain the motel by providing a subsidy of approximately $20,000 to $30,000 a month. However, if the Reno City Council continues with their plan to remove the strip club, Keshmiri will be forced to raise rent by double.

“We only intend to raise your rates to match the current market if, and only if, the city of Reno enacts the proposed changes to the adult business ordinance regulations,” Keshmiri wrote.

Keshmiri encourage tenants to lobby against the city in an effort to stop the ordinances.

“If you wish to prevent the City from forcing us to raise your rents, I suggest you or your representatives contact the members of the Reno Planning Commission and the members of the Reno City Council to plead your case against their proposed actions,” Keshmiri wrote. “Perhaps you can stop the City from gentrification of the Wild Orchid at the expense of your homes.”

On Wednesday, January 24, tenants pleaded for the Reno City Council to make a deal with the downtown strip clubs in order to save them from having to leave the hotel or pay the increased rent price.

According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, tenants claimed to have seen their rent increase at least three times in the last year. A majority of the tenant’s public comments mentioned that the Ponderosa Hotel was their last affordable option of residence and if the rent were to be raised, they would be forced to leave with nowhere else to live.

“We really need this hotel more than anything in the world right now,” said Velma Shoal, a tenant at the Ponderosa. “They was there when I had nobody. I had no one and nowhere to turn. That hotel gave me a place to live, a bed to sleep in and a way to cook for my granddaughter when I was homeless. Please don’t take that from us.”

The RGJ reported that the Ponderosa has been subject to various code violations such as complaints from residents regarding dismal and unsafe living conditions. These complaints have caused the Washoe Health District and city of Reno to shut down rooms until the hotel makes the repairs necessary to make the rooms habitable again.

In an interview with the RGJ, Councilwoman Neoma Jardon said she was not impressed with the tactic to raise the rent.

“While I was one of the two ‘no’ votes to move forward with the ordinances, this is a tactic that does nothing but strike fear in the tenants and uses them as political pawns,” she said.

Karolina Rivas can be reached at karolinar@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @karolinarrivas.