Ordinance targeting high-crime motels gets pushback from some owners
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — After two months of back-and-forth, the Indianapolis city-county council is close to having a final ordinance aimed at cleaning up some rough motels and hotels.
The ordinance, written by councilor Jared Evans, is intended to address the fact that just 16 hotels and motels accounted for about 6,000 fire, police and medical runs last year.
“It’s a safe haven, it’s a safe place, for these type of activities to take place, which is not safe for our neighborhoods and communities,” Evans.
That’s the charge city-county councilor Jared Evans makes against more than a dozen other motels and hotels across the city.
Some neighbors say these places trying to revitalize their communities say the businesses are a drag on the neighborhood and their cleanup efforts.
“Coming off the exit at 465, it’s the main thing you see and it is a terrible eyesore,” said Ben Davis Village resident Josh Stegemoller about the Regal 8 Inn, which is in his neighborhood. “Everyone in the community does not like it.”
Every time Stegemoller leaves his house, he sees the Regal 8 Inn. Last year, the hotel had 526 fire and police runs.
At the very top of the list is Nila Patel’s Skyline Motel. She bought the place last summer and says she’s been trying to institute some reforms to improve security.
She believes the ordinance is unfair to motel owners trying to work on solutions and won’t really solve the problem.
“Once I start limiting the people or rejecting the people, they’ll go to another property,” said Patel. “So my ratio will go down, but the people are still there. They are going to go to other properties.”
Patel also questions how Evans and the city’s Business and Neighborhood Services came up with this list.
“According to the ordinance, it should be excluding all the off-duty employment, the administrative runs should be excluded, health-related runs should be excluded,” said Patel. “If I look at all of those and exclude that and really count the nuisance activity, I’m well under the 2.5 ratio for the 2017. But, the way the councilor has calculated a 6.7 ratio for Skyline, I don’t know how he has come up with the ratio.”
She claims her analysis filters out far more than the 36 runs the city excluded when creating the list. She says she worries they won’t get a fair shake under the ordinance if the city insists on using the same calculations.
Councilor Evans says the ratio itself isn’t the end all, be all. He says that they will give owners opportunity to work with IMPD and the city to reduce runs to her hotels.
Patel, as well as Kartik Patel who owns the Budget 8, the Regal 8 Inn and others, say they’re already doing all she can to provide better security.
“I use MyCase website to screen the people,” said Patel. “So if I see somebody having drug-related issues or intoxication issues because these are the things that can be counted against me, then I do not rent them.”
Still though, she says social ills lead to fighting and other crimes she can’t prevent as well. She says she does her best and wants councilors to remember that she and the others are paying taxes and feel those should cover some of the resources being used.
“We have 170-something hotels and we’re talking about 16,” said Evans. “So if the other 140-odd hotels can clean up their act and have safe, productive areas for their customers, I think these can as well.”
Regardless of who’s to blame if crime doesn’t decrease Stegemoller says neighborhoods like his bear the burden.
“We try to do anything we can to really bring the best out of our neighborhood and that being the main focus in our neighborhood, as soon as you get off the exit and see it, doesn’t help our image at all,” said Stegemoller.
Councilor Evans tells me there will be one more amendment proposed, clarifying some of the ordinance language. He hopes that will alleviate some of the motel owners’ concerns.
The full council will vote on the fully-amended proposal on March 12th.