Friday, May 09, 2014

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.

Hatch credits City Council members, Planning Commissioners, the city staff, the Orange County Health Care Agency, community members and motel operators for this drop.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Anonymous Muffin Top Bob said...

So calls for police have dropped at local motels, this is a good thing for everybody but the little dictator. This can't be good for his plan to run these motels out of the City and let his back pocket buddy developers slide in and set up shop.

Is the little dictator and friends happy about this? -Don't hold your breath

5/09/2014 12:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

That is if you believe Hatch

5/09/2014 03:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Papa Smurf said...

Or did they only count legitimate 911 calls for service as they should have done originally. I believe the first set of numbers thrown around included police self intitiated activities logged in the computer - patrol checks. I brought this up several times ad it was never answered. We all know how Riggy loves to inflate the numbers to get his way.

5/10/2014 04:57:00 AM  
Anonymous now is the time said...

So most likely the original numbers did include CFS that were initiated by officers. For quite some time motels, like Lions Park, were considered one of those quality of life issues to be dealt with. Being such, officers would have been encouraged to conduct patrol checks and document them. I don't see a problem with including those calls as long as you are consistent in including ALL calls to ALL locations. In the end, there needs to be transparency in showing what calls are being included as well as those that are not. This insures comparisons are being made as apples to apples, and not apples to apples with oranges and squash thrown in.
Another concern would be what is really being measured. The documentation may rightfully show the number of phone calls has decreased but has the actual activity, be it criminal or nuisance, really decreased? Or are they being overlooked for fear they will be fined if they go over their quota of calls. Just like touting the success of COIN when the process has not yet fully been completed, I think the jury is still out on the true success of any measures that have been instituted.

5/10/2014 07:57:00 PM  

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