Council approves proposal to revoke licenses of hotels with too many emergency runs

Hotel owners hold signs in the gallery during Monday's City-County Council meeting.
Cracking down on high-crime hotels
Cracking down on crime - hotels
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - The City-County Council unanimously approved a proposal that could close down hotels for too many police runs.

Hotel owners showed up at Monday's council meeting, pushing back with signs to object to a proposal they said unfairly targeted small business owners.

"I have no problems out of my guests," said Anna Sosa, who manages The Always Inn on East 21st Street.

The hotel is on a list deemed "hot spots" by the city for police runs.

"I've cleaned that hotel up and people want to come in and run us down or run us out. I will go down with a fight," said Sosa.

The ordinance uses a ratio to figure out how many emergency calls to a hotel are too many.

Under the ordinance, if a hotel has more than 2 1/2 emergency runs per room, per year, the hotel can lose its license.

"They're worried that there's a lot of unfair potential for the numbers to be skewed in a way that doesn't reflect what's really going on," said attorney Steven Groth with Bose McKinney and Evans.

Groth is representing some of the hotel owners. He says the new law punishes the wrong people.

"It's basically a form of collective punishment," Groth explained. "Instead of targeting people violating the law, this really seeks to punish the property owners who don't have any control over whether people are breaking the law or not."

The crackdown proposal comes from Councilman Jared Evans.

Hotel owners held signs to make their voices heard during Monday's City-County Council meeting.
Hotel owners held signs to make their voices heard during Monday's City-County Council meeting.

"He has no idea what he is doing," said Kartik Patel.

Patel owns and operates several Indianapolis hotels, including the Motor 8 Inn on North Shadeland Avenue. He and other hotel owners shared the police runs he says the council is using to label their properties a nuisance due to crime and drug activity.

The crackdown comes amidst this weekend's deadly assault at the Shadeland Inn, which is also on the city's list. Police and emergency crews responded to a call at the Shadeland Inn for a person badly beaten there. That person ultimately died.

"I understand there may be some fear that this will impact their livelihood, I can certainly understand that, but the public safety aspect has to be taken into consideration," said councilwoman Marilyn Pfisterer.

Patel admits to past drug problems at his hotel, but he's the first to act.

"We have not ignored it and we will never ignore it," Patel said.

He says he's kicked people out of his property.

"I fight. I chased them out," he said.

But hotel owners say it doesn't take into consideration people staying at their hotels who may have no choice because they've fallen on hard times.

If they get closed down, they wonder what would happen to their guests, including needy families trying to get back on their feet.

"Where are some of these people going to live," said hotel owner Jennifer Eversole.

Pastor James Jackson called Patel personally for help when a mother and her children needed somewhere to go after domestic abuse. He gave the mother discounted room rate.

Jackson toured the property for a personal and up close look at the facility before being willing to send people there needing a place to stay and his church paying the bill.

Eyewitness News asked Patel where would his long term tenants go.

"I have no idea, maybe on the street?" he said. "Maybe the councilman's home?"

The council argues the crackdown is for the safety of the customers to help stop deadly attacks like this past weekend.

According to the ordinance, a hotel wouldn't be closed right away for too many police runs. They would have a period of two years to reduce the number of calls and fix whatever issues were causing the high call volume.

There is no word if the hotel and motel owners will invite the council members to tour their properties.

Patel says he spent well over a million dollars renovating his Motor 8 Inn. He still considers Indianapolis one of the best cities to do business despite the so-called crackdown. He has recruited other business owners to Indiana to establish hotels and motels.

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