After a month-long investigation conducted by the police department in cooperation with the city building department and city code enforcement, the city attorney has filed criminal charges against the owners of two local Hoquiam motels.
The owners of the Sandstone Motel and the owners of the Kerns Motel have both been charged with misdemeanor violations of HMC 3.26.020: “No transient accommodation shall offer a lodging unit or units to a guest for more than twenty-nine consecutive days; Once a guest has occupied a lodging unit or units in a transient accommodation for a period of twenty-nine consecutive days, the guest shall not be permitted to occupy a different unit in the same transient accommodation.”
The ordinance has been in place since 2014.
Under the current budget, the mayor and city council increased funding from part-time to full-time for the city’s sole code enforcement officer, Dorian Wylie. The additional staff time has created more capacity for the city to address nuisance properties and code violations which degrade the value and safety of our community.
Police department Focus point #3 is the abatement of chronic nuisances, so the partnership with the full-time city code enforcement officer has been critical in addressing issues and responding to citizen complaints.
Over the past several years, the city has repeatedly warned local motels, in person and by letter, of the Hoquiam city ordinance. The rental of motel units over 30-days effectively changes the transient accommodations of a motel into more of a situation expected of an actual tenant within an apartment building. Since motels are not required to have the same space, cooking facilities and amenities as an apartment complex, many people living long-term in motels have suffered from inadequate housing without the protections afforded under the state’s landlord-tenant law.
Thus, some motels have attempted to take advantage of the status of their “guests” by extracting excessive monthly rental rates or kicking-out over 30-day tenants without due process of law. In one case, city code enforcement discovered a tenant living in a tiny motel room who was being charged $1200 per month rent.
Mayor Jasmine Dickhoff commented: “I am proud that the decision to once again have full-time code enforcement in the city of Hoquiam has yielded such quick and significant results. This work with our police department and city attorney sends a strong message that Hoquiam will not tolerate establishments making a profit off those most vulnerable who are in need of housing. We are committed to improving the landscape of safe and affordable housing in Hoquiam. Our nuisance abatement codes and city staff will work to ensure that businesses will reflect these values as well.”
For contact with the city code enforcement officer, call 360-538-3973 or email: [email protected]