Community Safety Committee Charlotte City Council Meeting Summary April 26, 2007

Charlotte City Council
Community Safety Committee
Meeting Summary April 26, 2007
Hotel/Motel Ordinance
The Committee approved the staff’s recommendation to amend Chapters 11
& 15 for hotels in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, NC.
Staff Resource:
Keith Parker, Walter Abernethy
Turner, Kinsey, Dulin, Mitchell, Foxx
12:10-1:00 p.m.
Proposed Hotel/Motel Ordinance Update (Power Point)
Community Safety Committee
Meeting Summary for April 26, 2007
Page 2
Hotel/Motel Ordinance
Committee Discussion:
Assistant City Manager Keith Parker explained that the hotel motel ordinance was
referred to the Community Safety Committee in early Fall 2006. Staff worked to offer
the recommendations.
An example of current weaknesses in the ordinance is Knights Inn on Boxmeer Street.
The property is in serious condition and is presenting health problems. It is also causing
problems for near by businesses. The City could not shut it down until Fire found fire
code violations. Some hotels do not keep accurate records. The owners or the operators
do not cooperate with police. Police is trying to work with the hotels and motels by
providing educational tools with the staff. Legal is working with the public abatement
Hotels are not considered a dwelling therefore they do not currently fall under Chapter 11
(single, family homes or apartments) or chapter 15 for a number of different things. If
the hotels fell into this category, Neighborhood Development could enforce the codes.
A. Dulin:
Can you describe Chapter 15?
There are provisions in both Chapters, but hotels don’t fall into either.
Because hotels-motels don’t fall into those, the ordinance is being
Staff held stakeholders meetings. The apartment industry said there are a lot of low-cost
apartments. They believe they could get folk into those apartments. Business owner
Steve McGowan said “the city should not allow another long-term weekly stay hotel.”
CMS suggested we work with a support group to transition families into housing.
AAOHA (hotel owners) had major concerns about the first proposal. If the City got at
the problematic hotels with the suggested changes to close them, some of the others will
The Westin and the Marriott are two examples of hotels with executive stay, relocations
or temporary employment. Therefore, staff abandoned that objective to close the hotel.
Mr. Parker stressed that we are not in the business of hurting the legitimate hotels. Since
hotels are not designed to be long term, other things will happen to help with the
problematic hotels.
The representative from A Way Home stressed that Council should go after the 10-year
homeless plan. Mr. Parker shared that with the committee.
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Meeting Summary for April 26, 2007
Page 3
Staff is recommending new inspection authority, new standards of fitness for hotel/motel,
cooperation with CMPD requirements. Recommended changes under Chapter 11 for
code enforcement inspections would be minimum standards for fitness for lodging,
referrals by tenants and higher civil penalties. The hotels would be required to number
rooms, check ID, obtain vehicle information, no rental to minors, no hourly rentals,
control third-party rentals and maintain a ban book. The only difference is the penalty.
The goal is still compliance of the ordinance.
A. Dulin:
Define referral by tenant?
Just as the state statue, if a tenant saw rodents, etc., they could report that
as a violation.
A. Dulin:
Will your folk only respond when called?
If our inspector is in the area, if he warrants an inspection of a structure,
he would report that to his supervisor. Staff will go through the process to
decide if a case can be open.
W. Turner:
K. Parker:
What about subletting?
As long as it doesn’t interfere with practice. Legal is crafting the
K. Parker:
Who is responsible in this change?
K. Parker:
Who will supply photos of who not to rent to?
Each hotel is responsible for adding those to the log (ban book).
K. Parker:
Will we give guidelines?
We have not worked out those details.
Cooperation with CMPD would require participation in crime-free hotel/motel program,
share guest records with police during investigations, evict tenants when involved in
criminal activity on property and no blocking of 911 calls.
How often is the crime-free hotel program offered?
As needed. We can change.
Mr. Parker explained the changes to Chapter 15. The first offense is $50 although it can
be dismissed with compliance. The second offense if $100 and the third offense is
possible jail time – up to 25 days – if found guilty. Mark Newbold explained that the
first time offense is compliance. This part of the ordinance would focus on the criminal
activity. If there are several offenses, there is some jail.
Why is the fine so low? How does that compare to residence?
Abernathy: We give housing a chance to comply. Then it is $100.00.
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Meeting Summary for April 26, 2007
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We can increase up to $500.00. The legislation set the punishment. This
is the lowest misdemeanor. The court could use community Service.
Council member Turner added that the deterrent is not the fine. One is civil and one is
criminal. Mr. Newbold added that the statue allows us to increase the fine. Mr. Parker
explained that code enforcement would have harsher fines under the proposed changes to
Chapter 11. He also said there isn’t an imbalance on how we handle residence. With the
hotels, a criminal penalty is the right way to go.
K. Parker:
Can police write citation in Chapter 15?
Yes. Chapter 15 is all police. Chapter 11 is code enforcement.
Mr. Parker also explained the biggest challenge is money. We have three options; we
will have to pull one of the five teams from code and dedicate them to hotels, create a
new team that is over $650K a year or somewhere in between with a pilot program which
would still need money.
P. Kinsey:
K. Parker:
Will you show us the numbers?
We were not given instructions to develop a cost model. We can show to
full Council.
What was the demo cost?
We threw in $150K to support demolition. That would support one or two
Staff can lay out additional cost with the recommended endorsement of Chapters 11 &
15. Council member Mitchell added that the budget approval date is May 30. Mr.
Parker said we can send three options to the committee; get a feel then add it to the
recommendations. May 24, the next Committee, will not give the manager enough time
to add it to her budget. Council member Kinsey asked if it would work if we have the
information available at the meeting. Council member Mitchell said we would have a lot
of discussion if we just recommend the policy without money.
Council member Foxx echoed Council members Turner and Kinsey. He suggested that
staff make it available for the manager. If the policy passes, the information would be
available for Council. Council member Turner asked about the short-term and the longterm. Mr. Parker added that modifying Chapters 11 & 15 is the short term solution. The
use of permits is to keep hotels from falling into bad situation by 2008 is the long-term.
Council member Turner said the recommendation is a good tool. CMPD has the right to
do their part and they would also call code enforcement.
A. Dulin:
Is the proposal strong enough?
Witherspoon: It establishes accountability for the owners. That is something currently
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Meeting Summary for April 26, 2007
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Officer Booth gave an update on Knights Inn. The property has been purchased and
fenced off with guard dogs. The fire department will use it in a training session.
K. Parker:
How do we deal with absent owners? Do we deal with the operator?
These recommendations are for the first person on site. The owner,
operator and manager are informed.
Walter goes after the owner.
Council member Turner made a motion that the Community Safety Committee approves
the recommendations of staff with amendments Chapter 11 and Chapter 15 to assist the
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police with public safety efforts for crime preventions of larger
establishments in the city of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County as well as the neighborhood
development authority to inspect large establishments in the city of Charlotte,
Mecklenburg County.
Council member Kinsey seconded the motion. The recommendation passed
The meeting adjourned at 1:00pm