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Thread: Allowing rentals in an old motel?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Allowing rentals in an old motel?

    We have an old motel in a commercial district that does not allow residential uses. They are clearly being uses as apartments that otherwise wouldn't meet our rental code. The owner claims he is renting our these rooms to "extended stay" guests.

    Without setting a limit on nights a guest can stay somewhere (which would be next to impossible to enforce and very big brother-ish) what can we do? Has anyone seen this situation before? As you can guess this is a seedy motel so I wouldn't expect the local Hilton Garden Inn to have this situation.
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  2. #2
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    Wow, that's funny. Who's being harmed? Is there a good reason to kick these people out?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    I think this is a fairly common situation with many older "mom and pop" motels. There's one of these that I know of in my little city -- and probably others in nearby towns. In poorer areas,as long as they aren't meccas for criminal activities, they're probably welcome because they help combat homelessness.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I am doing the analysis for a hotel market right now. The observation I made in the report is that new hotels can be supported, mainly because of the condition of the older independent hotels and some of the economy chain hotels. For the most part these were developed from the 1920's to the 1970's and have not been significantly updated in recent history. When a new hotel enters the market it draws customers who prefer the assurance of a decent room. The older hotels try to compete by offering lower prices. There are plenty of $29 rooms in this market. The problem is that there is not much profit in a cheap room, and certainly not enough to fund the major renovation and new furnishings these places require. There are two options at that point. Close, or cater to transients. Of course, with that market can come problems like alcohol and drugs, social service demands, and crime. You may not have many options if your community does not require hotel operators to have a city license or if there is no zoning violation. On the proacative side, you could always try to work with the owner to improve the property, or acquire it for redevelopment.
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    That's a tough situation. The best solution may be to work with local police to treat the problem tenants instead of writing something to prohibit this long-term lodging. As Linda_D said, this is better than someone sleeping on the streets.

    At a former employer the Town Council had concern with the development of an extended-stay hotel. The Council was concerned that the hotel would be used for long-term housing for people. If I remembered correctly, one of the development conditions the Plan Commission imposed was not allowing school buses to pick up or drop off from the site. That seemed to appease the Council, even though any children could just walk to another site to be picked up.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    We're facing this issue right now. We have some oceanfront motels that were built in accordance with our motel standards. Now they want to be apartments. They don't meet our standards for apartments, principally those relating to parking (one space versus two) and "recreation area" (zero versus 250 sqft per unit). The majority of these were built recently. The problem is that allowing them to become apartments penalizes those who followed the apartment rules by making theirs more expensive for the same amount of living space. Two of them are simple scams of the planning department that always were intended to be sold as apartments but approved as motels. That way they could cram more units on to increase the profits. We are working on a solution, but it's not easy to come with one that is fair and pleases everyone.

  7. #7
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Otis View post
    We're facing this issue right now. We have some oceanfront motels that were built in accordance with our motel standards. Now they want to be apartments. They don't meet our standards for apartments, principally those relating to parking (one space versus two) and "recreation area" (zero versus 250 sqft per unit). The majority of these were built recently. The problem is that allowing them to become apartments penalizes those who followed the apartment rules by making theirs more expensive for the same amount of living space. Two of them are simple scams of the planning department that always were intended to be sold as apartments but approved as motels. That way they could cram more units on to increase the profits. We are working on a solution, but it's not easy to come with one that is fair and pleases everyone.
    Otis - you've got one of those classic cases of "That's too bad. Plead your case to ZBA/PC/Council and ask for the variations. Good luck!".

    In general, I would just tell owners/operators in these types of situations to either try change your zoning or seek development requirement variations. It's a tough one.
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    One thing is for sure, if your City has a TOT, than make sure you are still collecting it. Similar situation happened in my City. The operator stopped collecting the TOT. We hit back with, collect it or we will shut you down. They started collecting it again, and well, we turned the other way again.
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian ThePinkPlanner's avatar
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    We have the same problem here, perhaps even more so. We have old motels that are currently being used as apartments. The owners are sly too. They let people live in the units for 89 days (our extended stay is limited to 90 days) and then actually pay to move the tenant into a different unit or across town for a night and then back the following day or week (most are so small and tenants have few belongings).

    Its tough as nobody seems to like it- neighbors complain, businesses complain, and even the tenants complain (typically they come with poor living conditions), but not something our current administration wishes to make an enforcement priority.

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