Motel Police Calls And Nuisance Complaints Plunge!
In a press release today, HERE, the City of Costa Mesa, via Chief Executive Officer Tom Hatch, announced that police calls and nuisance complaints for motels and hotels within the city have dropped dramatically during the first quarter of 2014 when compared to the same period last year.
MANY RECEIVE CREDIT
Hatch credits City Council members, Planning Commissioners, the city staff, the Orange County Health Care Agency, community members and motel operators for this drop.
GOOD NEWS, BUT...
This, of course, is good news - as far as it goes. Unanswered is the question of how many calls that should have been made were NOT made because of fears of very significant fines that would be levied against the motel operators. The press release tells us that the city has not YET begun fining motel operators, but if they had, the fines would have totaled $2,880.
CALLS NOT MADE?
I watched the many hearings on the new ordinances set in place to manage this issue and heard the concerns from the motel operators about how the fines might severely hurt their businesses. Many of them speculated that law enforcement might not be called because of the potential for fines and serious issues may not be handled in a timely manner. We have no sense of that part of the equation from the city press release.
Still lingering in the back of my mind is Mayor Jim Righeimer's many statements about his goal of making motel owners take a more "realistic" view of the value of their properties - something he intended to facilitate by hammering them with code enforcement fines and, now, fines for violations of the nuisance ordinance and excessive calls for service. It was very clear that Righeimer felt some of the motel owners needed to be made to see the folly of valuing their properties to high, making them difficult for his developer buddies to acquire.
WHAT ABOUT AFFORDABLE HOUSING DEMANDS?
And, based on recent comments during Planning Commission meetings, it is clear that the intent is to reduce the number of long-term-stay units in motels to ZERO - a fact that negatively impacts those in the community who have no alternative source for affordable housing.
KUDOS, BUT NEED MORE INFO...
So, congratulations to all involved for making life easier for the public safety staff and, theoretically, making the community safer. Perhaps some enterprising real reporter will help us with the other side of the equation - how many calls that should have been made were not because of the potential for "using up" their authorized number of calls? That would be good information for us to know to fully assess the effectiveness of these new initiatives.