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Sacramento County officials press Motel 6 to hire armed guards, pay $755,000

Workers sort through debris at the former Motel 6 – site of the recent fatal shooting of a Sacramento county deputy – which is being leveled to make way for a new shopping complex on Friday, Jan. 30, 2015 in Sacramento, Calif. City and county officials are seeking to impose strict conditions on all Motel 6 properties in Sacramento County.
Workers sort through debris at the former Motel 6 – site of the recent fatal shooting of a Sacramento county deputy – which is being leveled to make way for a new shopping complex on Friday, Jan. 30, 2015 in Sacramento, Calif. City and county officials are seeking to impose strict conditions on all Motel 6 properties in Sacramento County. rpench@sacbee.com

Motel 6 would have to hire armed guards and pay $755,000 to reduce crime and address community problems under an agreement that leaders in Sacramento County are seeking from the largest discount lodging company in North America.

Steve Grippi, Sacramento County chief deputy district attorney, said the company that has become synonymous with low-cost overnight stays has long been known to county prosecutors for something else: crime, especially prostitution and drug dealing, by some of its customers.

In a 30-month period ending in June, law enforcement agencies responded to more than 5,300 calls for service at Motel 6 properties in the county, or an average of almost 10 calls for each of its 550 rooms. Three Motel 6 properties are in Sacramento, one is in Rancho Cordova and two are in the unincorporated county.

Sacramento County Deputy Danny Oliver, who focused on problem properties, was shot at a Motel 6 in Arden Arcade in October 2014. Luis Monroy Bracamontes has been charged with killing Oliver in a crime spree that started at the Motel 6 on Arden Way and included the killing of Placer County Deputy Michael Davis Jr.

The motel was razed in January to make way for expanded retail and a new movie theater complex.

“That property has been removed and we’re happy about that,” Grippi told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously voted to accept a draft agreement involving the county, Sacramento, Rancho Cordova and Motel 6. The draft agreement calls for Motel 6 to make a number of changes, including having 24-hour security with some use of armed guards, and to pay $215,000 into a fund that would be used to enforce the agreement and would have to be replenished by Motel 6 if spent.

The county and cities could use that money to hire armed guards or install systems intended to identify criminals, among other things, if Motel 6 fails to do so. Grippi said Motel 6 has indicated the money will never need to be spent.

Motel 6 would have to contribute an additional $540,000 to the District Attorney’s Office Public Safety and Community Improvement Trust Fund, which in turn would go toward human trafficking, domestic violence and youth intervention programs.

“How disappointing that a national company would have to have the district attorney write its business plan,” said Supervisor Susan Peters at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Phone and email messages to the Motel 6 corporate offices in Dallas were not returned Tuesday. Sacramento attorney Stan Van Vleck, representing Motel 6, said he could not comment without the company’s approval.

Grippi said Motel 6 isn’t alone in owning properties that are crime magnets. He said the District Attorney’s Office decided to take action against the motel giant in part because Sacramento City Attorney James Sanchez shared the office’s concerns about Motel 6.

The Rancho Cordova City Council approved the draft agreement in closed session Monday. The Sacramento City Council approved the agreement Tuesday night in closed session. Sanchez had said the city could take legal action against Motel 6 if the company does not sign off on the memorandum of understanding.

Grippi also said the potential for civil action against Motel 6 remains a possibility, should the company not accept the draft agreement. He said the company supports the draft agreement “in principle,” which is why it was brought to elected officials for approval this week.

District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert told Motel 6 officials during a July meeting with other county and city representatives that she was planning to file a civil action against the company, Grippi said. But she held off because Van Vleck said Motel 6 was willing to do anything reasonable to help curb crime at its properties.

Since the July meeting, Motel 6 has already made improvements, Grippi said. Calls for service are down dramatically at the Rancho Cordova property, and word has gotten around on the street that the motels can’t be used for prostitution.

Among the provisions of the draft agreement, Motel 6 would prohibit visitors in guest rooms from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., require registered guests to have ID and be at least 21 unless in the military, and train its employees on various ways to identify criminals and criminal activity.

Any guest seeking to stay more than two weeks in any 30-day period would have to be approved by law enforcement. The motels would be prohibited from renting rooms on an hourly or half-night basis.

The draft agreement calls for video cameras in the lobbies and security guards approved by local law enforcement agencies. The security guards would be armed from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m.

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