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..
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(check out their other hotels)

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.


   The Current Situation
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.
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Lafatyette interior




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