City Council considers hotel inspections


Vicky Torres, Best Western general manager, spoke about the hotel inspection program the city is considering in preparation for the IHSA football championship and NIU Homecoming. Torres expressed concerns that the time limit set upon local hotels is too short in order to meet the requirements of the city.

By Jessi Haish

The city’s lack of hotel “standards” was the topic of both the committee of the whole and regular meeting of the City Council Monday night.

City attorney Dean Frieders called a proposed ordinance a “hotel and motel inspection program,” and said the city does not have any standards or inspections to check that city hotels are up to par.

Frieders said the idea of an inspection program has been discussed in the last few weeks as the city prepares to bring the IHSA state football championship into town and NIU readies for alumni to return to campus for Homecoming.

“We looked at comparison communities across the state and every single community we looked at had some form of annual inspections of hotels…,” Frieders said. “As we look at the hotels in the city of DeKalb, we see areas where we could potentially improve the quality of the establishments and make sure they’re meeting the public’s needs.”

A meeting was held with the local hotels last week and Frieders hopes to get started with licensing and inspections right away.

If approved, the licenses could have been completed in 60 days or less, Frieders said.

However, the council chose to continue the discussion until the next council meeting on Sept. 23.

As proposed, the inspections would be on a room-to-room basis, Frieders said, and would cost $16 to $20 per room, per year.

Hotel owners were given a chance to speak and Vicky Torres, general manager of Best Western, 1212 W. Lincoln Highway, said she understands the “urgency” in getting ready for IHSA, but doesn’t agree with the hotels paying the inspection and licensing fees.

“We need more information,” Torres said. “This is a big deal.”

The fees are “pretty high” and there is still a lot of information to go over, Torres said.

Frieders said the estimate was based on what he considered to be the most cost effective route as well as most efficient.

Mayor John Rey clarified that the city does not intend to make money off of licensing but just wants to cover its costs through the fees.

“It’s hard to hit the road running with no inspection standards,” said fourth ward alderman Bob Snow.