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Manteca targets rooming houses
Bid to fight prostitution, drug dealing, retail & ID theft
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Manteca is stepping up its war on drug dealing, prostitution, retail theft and identify theft by increasing its regulatory control over residential hotels/motels and rooming houses.

The City Council Tuesday will consider adopting an ordinance that would require stringent permits for all forms of hotels, motels, and rooming houses. Although it is all inclusive, the target is older motels such as along Moffat Boulevard and downtown rooming houses where there has been a high degree of criminal activity. The council meets at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

“Residential hotel/motels and rooming houses are (necessary) to provide longer-term housing for our working poor,” Police Chief Dave Bricker noted in a memo to the council. “However, law enforcement has long known that hotels, motels, and rooming houses are commonly used by individuals as a temporary base for some types of criminal activity, such as drug dealing, prostitution, retail theft, and identity theft.”

At the same time Bricker noted rooming houses and such also serve as long-term housing for some residents. That, according to Bricker, “necessitates the ability for the city to ensure that the buildings meet the standards and requirements of law regarding long-term housing.”

The end result is an ordinance that creates a permitting process for operators of such housing as well as outlining requirements that the motels and the rooming houses must meet.

Prior to a permit being used for the operation of such a facility, the city will conduct an inspection to make sure the following items exist:

•Full compliance with all applicable housing code requirements, including electrical and plumbing requirements.

•Full compliance with all applicable fire code requirements, including safety measures, emergency exiting, and panic hardware requirements.

•Required heating facilities for each individual unit.

•A bed in good and clean condition and maintained in such a manner as not to be a detriment to the health of guests as determined by the San Joaquin County Environmental health.

•There shall be clothes storage in good working order for hanging clothes and/or storing personal belongings.

•Required common indoor space approved variance.

•For motels/hotels a schedule of linen changes that are, at a minimum on a weekly basis or whenever a guest departs and before another guest arrives.

•Immediate access for police, fire, and emergency personnel for those premises that have secured entries.

•Screens on all exterior windows.

•There are no infestations of insects, vermin or rodents as determined by the Public Health Department.

In addition to the initial inspections, the city will conduct quarterly inspections.

Provisions of the ordinance also will preclude felons and those convicted of drug-related crimes or crimes of a moral turpitude from serving as manager of such facilities unless five years have passed since they have completed parole or probation.

The city met with operators of various hotels, motels, and rooming houses to receive their input. Bricker said they were not opposed although some expressed concern about fees that would cut into their profitability.

Bricker is recommending the city suspend charges for the initial permit issuance, inspection, as well as the manager training ordinance mandated by the ordinance.

There won’t be any quarterly inspection fees but should a re-inspection be required at any time a fee would be charged.