"Bates Motel" the Final Scene?
Bring in the Bulldozers
On September 22, 2009, the Board of Building and Safety Commissioners unanimously voted to declare the long neglected property at the corner of Sunset Blvd. and Bates Ave. a "Public Nuisance". That allows building code enforcement to move ahead with demolition of the building. This usually takes 2-3 months.

Clare Bronofski, the attorney for the owners of the Sunset Pacific Motel appealed to the commissioners for more time claiming she was just hired by the Michigan based company. When asked what the owner's plans for the property were she admitted "these is no current plan." She did say they now have a security guard who comes by 4 times a day, and the building's manager said he "goes to the property most weeks three times a week."

City Attorney Bill Larsen reported on the 10 year fight to abate the nuisance and that even after the property was fenced and boarded the site continued as a magnet for crime citing the character of the characters who inhabit the area around the property has gotten so bad that some demand $2  for safe passage from those merely walking on the sidewalk adjacent to the building. Representatives of the Jewish Community Center  which is across Bates Ave. from the site said they can no longer use their main entrance because of the danger to their 600 patrons including 100 children in their pre-school.

Since the last attempt to rehab the forlorn building as a "high end hotel with a restaurant/bar lounge" failed after getting zoning approval in June 2006, the property has continued its downward slide. The commission received over 230 letters supporting demolition including one from Police Chief Bratton, which Commission President Marsha Brown said she had never seen in other similar cases. In the FHRA's letter in support of demolition we said in part:

"The property at 4301 Sunset Blvd. has been a magnet for malice and a powerful catalyst for community crime for well over a decade. The Franklin Hills Residents Association worked hard for the closure of the Sunset Pacific Motel…commonly referred to as the "Bates Motel." Now we believe it is finally time to take the next step and permanently remove this dangerous eyesore from the community.

"Multiple attempts to rehab and reopen the property have failed. The motel's tiny rooms, inadequate parking, and other deficiencies would almost surely doom future schemes to reopen the property in an acceptable manner. Meanwhile the property's ever continuing deterioration poses increasing threats to the surrounding neighborhood.

We urge the commission to order the demolition of the buildings at 4301 Sunset Blvd. and provide the corner of Sunset and Bates the chance at a clean start and the neighborhood relief from the years of problems this property has harbored."

Below you can read of the past actions by the FHRA and attempts to reopen to building after the City Council voted to have it closed down as a motel in March 2002.

2006 plan approved...then abandoned
Cautious Support Voiced at Zoning Hearing on Remaking the Notorious "Bates" Motel

WILL THIS                                               BECOME THIS


On June 16, 2006 Zoning Administrator Gary Booher issued his decision based on the zoning hearing held on May 4th, 2006. At that time representatives of Silver Lake resident and business owner Dana Hollister asked Zoning Admibnistrator Gary Booher for the okay to rehabilitate and reopen the forlorn remains of the Sunset Pacific Motel as a 40 room "High End Hotel with Restaurant/Bar/Lounge" The property's troubled past has kept it closed for the last four years. After hearing from the LAPD, the City Attorney, nearby neighbors, members of two neighborhood councils and city Councilmember Garcetti's office, most of whom asked for more time to study the matter

At its April 18th meeting the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council received an impressive presentation of Hollister's plans for the property, with room rentals ranging from $135 - $255 per night and such "luxurious amenities" as "in room massage and spa treatments." 

Because of the lack of a quorum and time to properly inform the area residents who had played an important role in shutting down the old "Bates" motel, the matter was for reviewed by the GGPNC's Planning/Zoning and Historic Preservation Committee on May 10th and the full GGPNC board on May 16th. The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council is also approved the project with certain conditions at its June 6th meeting.
Click on the links below for more detailed information including:
The May 4th hearing brief summary of comments....official hearing notice and application.   Staff Investigator's Report
Zoning Administrator Aprroval Letter
Applicant's plans, volunteered conditions, hotel description and menus,
history of the notorious  property, and an aerial photo showing other bars nearby.

The Zoning Hearing May 4, 2006

Zoning Administrator Gary Booher (left) takes notes while applicant Dana Hollister (standing right) and her designer display concepts of the proposed Silver Lake Hotel at the May 4th City Hall hearing to renovate and reopen the 1960s era property.
Property owner Dana Hollister's representative, Elizabeth Peterson, explained the projected 40 room hotel, with its 132 seat restaurant and lounge and the adjacent property with a single family home that would be come the Silver Lake Hotel's Spa, Pool and message room area. She also detailed the 22 self imposed conditions of operation designed to allay community fears, including automatic review after one year, and discussed the new parking plan with some parking in what is now an auto repair shop on Sunset and 50 additional spaces at 1081 Manzanita. She said the project could not be financially viable without all of the elements.

Next to testify was LAPD vice officer Ken Korn who noted the crime in the area now "exceeds the Northeast Division's statistical goals" He asked for more time to study the conditions, but indicated from what he had seen if the hotel met the conditions he could support the project.

Bruce Carroll an FHRA and GGPNC board member who had toured the hotel when previous owners sought to reopen it spoke next. His concerns were the motel's very small rooms would prevent it from retaining an upscale clientele which could lead to lower standards and reintroduce old problems. He suggested  yearly reviews for five years, but ZA Booher rejected that idea, saying that at the one year review it could be decided if future reviews were needed and how often.

Elizabeth Bougart-Sharkov of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council said their Urban Design committee, which she chairs, had approved the project but do have some concerns over parking and traffic. She said her council would need until June 6th to formally act on the matter.

Former FHRA President Ricardo Gomez, who was instrumental in closing down the crime ridden "Bates," spoke in favor of this design saying "the addition of amenities makes the difference."

Vasken Hagopian, who owns the proprty across Sunset Blvd. from the motel, feared that after reopening "this hotel might go back to its sleasy tricks." He also was worried about the amount of parking.

Dennis Buensuceso, who lives adjacent to the property said his "biggest concern is the noise....\we will never be able to sleep." He termed the project "like a death sentence for us."

Next up was Tania Goodman of the Silver Lake Independent Jewish Community Center which is located across Bates from the motel. She said they support the project and hope it will make the area "a safer place for kids." She supported the concept of 5 year annual reviews and suggested that the 10 foot high wall surrounding the spa area instead of being solid incorporate open areas "so there could be surveillance."

Jeffrey Wylie, manager of the nearby Akbar Bar, spoke in support of the project and praised Hollister for the fine work she's done with other faltering neighborhood properties.

City Attorney Bill Larsen, who has been dealing with the "Bates" since the days when it was "a neighborhood catastrophe" said he had just gotten the new information and didn't have an official position, but likely would defer to the LAPD.

Allison Becker, Councilmember Eric Garcetti's planning deputy closed out the comment period crediting the FHRA for their work  in closing the property and pointing "the context has changed considerably" She explained the coulcilman believes the project "will enhance the existing environment," But echoed the requests for more time so they can further study the noise, spa, parking and other concern
s.

In concluding the public hearing Booher noted there was "a lot to review"  and that "time will be needed to resolve a lot of things." He seemed to indicate he had concerns over impact to neighbors and that he was open to imposing conditions that would bind future owners to maintain the safe guards against the property's decline into it old ways. He left the period for written comment open until Friday June 9, 2006 and said his decision would come about two to four weeks later.

A Sad History
     Called by the LAPD one of the most dangerous properties in the city, it was nicknamed the "Bates Motel" both for its location at Sunset and Bates and because in sheer numbers its horrors far outdid the motel in Hitchcock's Psycho.
     In the past police repeatedly found drug dealing, shootings, prostitution, gang activity and numerous other crimes in and around the motel where the coroner has had to remove three dead bodies.
                                                
In January 2002, 350 area residents packed the King Middle School auditorium for a community meeting sponsored by the FHRA to hear police explain that crime statistics showed "Bates" was a hub from which crime radiated to our community. The school is just 400 feet from the motel.
Councilmembers Tom LaBonge and Eric Garcetti both pledged at the meeting to get the City Council to close the motel after its owners appealed the decision of  the Chief Zoning Administrator who earlier had ordered, "discontinuance of the motel use effective immediately."  Just three weeks after the meeting there was another shooting in front of the motel. Three weeks later, on March 13, 2002, the City Council voted unanimously to shut the place down.

The Results of Closure
Once the motel was forced to close, the LAPD reported a very noticeable drop in crime in the area surrounding the defunct hotel. For many years the area ranked #1 for violent crime in the Northeast Division. Afterwards Senior Lead Officer Al Polehonki reported that computer maps show it sometimes has the lowest crime rate of Northeast's eight reporting districts.

Previous Failed Re-Opening Attempt
In December 2002 an application to reopen the hotel as what the applicants called a
"very upscale bed and breakfast type inn...boutique type hotel" was turned down by the Zoning Administrator. Although the then owners planned on reducing the property from its original 37 small rooms to 20 - 29 larger rooms and pledged to spend $800,000 on renovations, they still lacked sufficient parking and serious questions remained about the viability of the property to attract its target clientele.

At the zoning hearing in December 2002
a trio from LAPD spoke. Senior Lead Officers Al Polehonki and Sam Salazar both told how the place was the center of area crime and how the motel's builder and former owner, Mr. Eng, had started out trying to run a proper motel, but the business could not be sustained without renting to the undesirable elements. Those elements were still very much in the area according to the sergeant heading up the LAPD's Northeast vice unit. Councilman Eric Garcetti's planning deputy, Allison Becker, pointed out that the history has proved that as a motel for travelers it's "not economically viable." The reopening application was denied.

2002-2003
ZONING ADMINISTRATOR DENIES PERMISSION TO REOPEN
THE "BATES" MOTEL


    January 30, 2003-- The letters "DENY" were in caps and underlined in Zoning Administrator David Kabashima's ruling turning down the request for a Conditional Use Permit to allow the crime plagued Sunset Pacific Motel to reopen.  At a hearing on December 17, 2002 Kabashima heard lots about the hazard of allowing the motel to reopen under new ownership. It was ordered shut last year by the City Council after public concern about its role as an area crime generator. The owners had until February 14, 2003 to appeal the ruling. They didn't appeal so the property can no longer be used as a motel.

New Owners Sought to Reopen
The Sunset Pacific "BATES" Motel..
.


A Sad History

Called by the LAPD one of the most dangerous properties in the city, it was nicknamed the "Bates Motel" both for its location at Sunset and Bates and because in sheer numbers its horrors far outdid the motel in Hitchcock's Psycho.

In the past few years police have repeatedly found drug dealing, shootings, prostitution, gang activity and numerous other crimes in and around the motel where the coroner has had to remove three dead bodies.



                                                        
350 area residents packed the King Middle School auditorium on January 29th, 2002, for a community meeting. The crowd heard police explain that crime statistics showed "Bates" was a hub from which crime radiated to our community. The school is just 400 feet from the motel.
Councilmen Tom LaBonge and Eric Garcetti both pledged at the meeting to get the City Council to close the motel after its owners appealed the decision of  the Chief Zoning Administrator who earlier had ordered, "discontinuance of the motel use effective immediately."

As if to punctuate the need for action there was another shooting in front of the motel three weeks after the meeting. Three weeks later, on March 13, 2002, the City Council voted unanimously to shut the place down.

  Since the motel was forced to close, the LAPD reports a very noticeable drop in crime in the area surrounding the now defunct hotel. For many years the area ranked #1 for violent crime in the Northeast Division. Now Senior Lead Officer Al Polehonki reports that computer maps show it sometimes has the lowest crime rate of Northeast's eight reporting districts. After the long hard fight to get the criminals out of our neighborhood the FHRA is opposed to plans to reopen the motel under new ownership. The motel property was sold early in 2002  to Balubhai G. Patel. He owns several other hotel properties in and around Los Angeles. He was seeking permission from the city to reopen the motel. Balubhai's son, Mike Patel, claims he will live on the site with his family. They planned about $800,000 of renovations, reducing the 37 room motel to 29 rooms, but there are only 18 parking places. The hearing on their request for a conditional use permit and parking variance was held on December 17th before Zoning Administrator David Kabashima. About two dozen people, many from the Franklin Hills came to show their opposition.
At the hearing a representative for the hotel owners explained that they wanted to turn the place into a "very upscale bed and breakfast type inn" and later referred to their plans as a "boutique type hotel." The project architect then came forward to clear up confusion about extra parking spaces that were shown in the submitted plans. There aren't really any.

Then it was time for those opposed to the project to have their say. First up were a trio from LAPD. Senior Lead Officers Al Polehonki and Sam Salazar both told how the place was the center of area crime and how the motel's builder and former owner, Mr. Eng, had started out trying to run a proper motel, but the business could not be sustained without renting to the undesirable elements. Those elements are still very much in the area according to the sergeant who heads up the LAPD's Northeast vice unit.

Next it was time for public comment, and former FHRA president and current Nuisance Abatement Committee Chairman, Ricardo Gomez, presented the commission with a detailed analysis of the reasons why the property does not meet the conditions required to get the permits they seek. Other community speakers included three who had met with the Patels and viewed their plans and other properties (pictured below). Bruce Carroll, FHRA and GGPNC board member,  told about deficiencies in the Patels's plans and their other properties. Mary Rodriguez, LFIA and GGPNC board member, who has spearheaded the drive to keep the property shut down told of the dangers to King middle school and presented a petition signed by 16 of the 19 Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council board members. And Juliet Kipperman the LFIA zoning chairwoman questioned why anyone in their target market would come to the motel with no amenities.

Other community speakers objecting to the project included representations from the Jewish Community Center, right across Bates from the motel, East Hollywood Community Association and the Silverlake Residents Association. They were followed by representatives from Assemblyman Dario Frommer and Councilman Eric Garcetti's planning deputy Allison Becker who pointed out that the history has proved that as a motel for travelers it's "not economically viable." She also praised the FHRA's "land use arguments" as being "very persuasive."

In rebuttal, the motel's representative threw in the towel on their request for a parking variance and said they'd go back to the drawing board and reduce the number of rooms to 20-22. They had been asking for 29 down from the current 37. This was yet another indication that the Patel's project is based more on wishful thinking than hard numbers...the plans anchored more in jello than concrete.

The FHRA hopes that many concerned neighbors will continue to show their determination not to allow the property to once again become a # 1 crime area and a community menace. Despite Patel's promises to do better than the previous owner, two other Patel Los Angeles properties pictured below, do not seem to show the kind of care we would want in our neighborhood.
THE STUART HOTEL
Stuart Hotel exterior The 54 room Stuart Hotel, 718 S. Union Avenue, has been the subject of a nuisance abatement action by the City Attorney's Office for narcotics activities and prostitution. Patel claims these are the fault of the people who leased the hotel. And there is a sign hanging out front saying "Under New Management" which refers to another company which is leasing the property. Rooms for two go for about $160 per week.

But there are also signs of possible building code violations and shoddy maintenance...missing window screens, broken windows, torn signs, multi-colored patched paint etc.


THE HOTEL LAFAYETTE
Lafayette hotel exterior
  The Hotel Lafayette, at 2731 Beverly Boulevard east of Rampart, appears to be badly neglected both outside and inside. There are broken windows, missing screens, old painted over signs and the abandoned Zimba Room on the ground floor. The poor maintenance at both hotels shows a disturbing pattern because the Patels have owned the Hotel Lafayette for over 20 years and Mike Patel says he and his family lived there until recently..

Lafatyette interior











BACK TO:

TOP OF THIS PAGE     FHRA HOME PAGE       EVENTS