ZONING ADMINISTRATOR DENIES
PERMISSION TO REOPEN THE "BATES" MOTEL
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
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.
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.
The Current Situation
THE STUART HOTEL
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
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
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.
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.
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
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..
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