City pushes in hotel inspections

By Jessi Haish

Hotel owners and managers should expect to hear from the city as early as this week.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, the council approved an ordinance amending the code for hotel and motel inspections and licensing. The ordinance program is for inspection and licensure of hotels and motels for the city.

Off-duty firefighters will conduct inspections of the hotels and motels, which includes walking through the hotels, looking at outside common areas, parking lots and lighting. Hotels will be looked over to ensure the buildings are compliant with building and fire codes. Individual hotel rooms will be inspected to make sure all of the rooms meet basic sanitation expectations.

The firefighters will make sure smoke detectors and plumbing are in good shape. They will also check that hotel owners are properly documenting room rentals.

Violations will documented and the offending hotel will be responsible for correcting the problems within a period of time as set by the city. Citations can be issued by the city.

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

Following the approval, work can begin as early as today. City attorney Dean Frieders said the city has three personnel trained and ready to start working.

“We’re going to get moving right away … share [the] guide as to what we’re going to be looking for,” said interim city manager Rudy Espiritu.

Espiritu said the first step is setting up meeting times with all DeKalb hotel and motel owners and managers.

Some hotel owners were hesitant about the process. Vicky Torres, general manager of Best Western, 1212 W. Lincoln Highway, said it wasn’t the fees that concerned her but the organization of the plan.

“How we’re going to do it in this short period of time, what the rules are going to be … everybody would just like to see that,” she said. “I think we need more time to look at it.”

Espiritu said a review of the program will be given to the council once initial inspections are completed.

“Many communities have a comprehensive system of inspections for all commercial properties, that’s not being proposed here,” Frieders said. “Based on some of the concerns that have been discussed with council, this addresses what we think to be an important public safety issue and public health issue.”