Battle Creek Commission OK’s Tough New Motel Ordinance
Battle Creek’s effort to cut down on crime at some local motels has a new weapon in the form of a new ordinance. It will make it illegal for them to live in one hotel or motel for more than 28 days. Battle Creek City Commissions passed the ordinance Tuesday on a narrow 5-4 vote.
Commissioner Chris Simmons said he felt that some of these motels are not a good place for families with children to live. “I think we’ve all seen the statistics of what happens in many of these motels,” said Simmons. “The crime, the drugs, the prostitution, and human trafficking, is no condition to have small children in them.”
But Commissioner Kate Flores said that the city should take a closer look. “We haven’t engaged properly with people living in hotels and motels, and we don’t know how people are going to react. We don’t know if people are going to work the rules and jump around every 28 days from one hotel to another,” said Commissioner Flores.
Flores, Commissioner Lynn Ward Gray, Commissioner John Griffin, and Commissioner Kaytee Faris voted against the ordinance.
Mayor Mark Behnke, Vice Mayor Sherry Sophia, Commissioners Chris Simmons, Jim Lance, and Susan Baldwin voted in favor of the ordinance.
The new ordinance takes effect on October 16th. People would not be allowed to stay for more than 28 consecutive days during a 90 consecutive day period unless the hotel or motel contained a kitchenette approved by the city.
The ordinance also bans cooking at hotels and motels, except in a kitchenette or microwave. But critics of the ordinance say that hotel and motel operators who bear the added expense of putting in a kitchenette will have to charge more for rooms, making them unaffordable to those who can’t afford other alternatives.
Any long-term accommodations over 90 days would be considered a residence and be open for inspection for compliance of state and local codes.
Battle Creek would also be allowed to deny hotel or motel permits if there has been more than one call to the police per year, per room.
The ordinance stems from the high number of police calls at the former Econo Lodge at the corner of Capital and Dickman Road. That hotel was torn down last week.