City looking to limit motel stays to 30 days

By: Robert Guttersohn | Royal Oak Review | Published October 31, 2013

ROYAL OAK — After seeing in quarterly reports that various people have been living in the city’s motels as far back as the 1990s, the commission voted Oct. 21 to add a provision to the hotel-motel ordinance banning anyone from staying at a motel longer than 30 days.

The move comes as the city is in the midst of tightening its rules on motels, hotels and other boarding houses throughout the city.

The commission was set to finalize an amendment to the hotel-motel ordinance that would have shortened license renewals for motels and other boarding houses from every three years to one year.

After Commissioner Jim Rasor introduced the 30-day-limit provision, the commission voted 6-0 to table the ordinance amendment so that it could be reintroduced at a future meeting with the provision limiting visitors’ stays.

Commissioner Peggy Goodwin was absent from the meeting.

City Attorney David Gillam said the changes do not need to come back for a first reading.

Rasor called the provision “an appropriate step for the public safety and welfare” of the city.

“I do think a lot of these hotels are no more than very, very bad apartment buildings,” Rasor said. “They are not suitable for more than 30-day stays.”

Mayor Pro Tem David Poulton, who has said he’d like to see all motels gone from the city, said the added provision was necessary to achieve that goal.

“This is long overdue in the city,” Poulton said. “We have motels that have turned into long-time establishments.

“These long-term tenants are providing the lifeblood to allow these motels to exist. By doing so, it’s led to a lot of problems.”

Much attention has been placed on transient visitors to the city and Royal Oak motels since the county recently filed charges against Destiny Thomas, 18, for child abuse in connection with the death of her 2-month-old daughter. Thomas had been living at the Seville Motel in Royal Oak for three months when her child died in February, according to police. Officials say that the autopsy revealed the child died from bronchopneumonia and malnourishment.

In addition to the charges filed against Thomas, the city is investigating to see if the Seville Motel had violated the city’s current hotel-motel ordinance as far as reporting to Royal Oak that Thomas, a minor at the time, and her child were staying there with her 29-year-old boyfriend, who reportedly had rented the room.

Gillam said the Police Department had filed a report to the city calling for local charges against the motel.

He said the city is reviewing the case to see if there is enough evidence to show that the motel had violated city ordinance. If so, Gillam said the city would file criminal charges against the motel.

Phone calls to the motel for comment were not returned as of press time.