OAKLAND, CA – This week, an Alameda County Superior Court judge issued tentative rulings shutting down two hotels that have been centers of prostitution and the sexual exploitation of minors in Oakland.
The City first sued the Economy Inn and the National Lodge in December 2010. After the court issued preliminary injunctions in October 2011, the City Attorney’s Office went back to court to seek closure for one year – the maximum amount of time allowed by state law. Community members, police officers and neighborhood advocates testified that the hotels had long histories of allowing and profiting from prostitution, including child prostitution.
The court’s May 29 rulings find that the hotels present a severe nuisance to the community, and that the nuisance likely would continue absent closure. The tentative ruling states the following: The hotels are to close no later than July 31; the three named defendants in each case are ordered to pay $15,000 each in civil penalties – a total of $45,000 per hotel; the defendants are permanently enjoined from maintaining the property as a public nuisance, and; the defendants must pay the City’s costs for legal work and police investigations related to the cases. The defendants also must pay for a court-appointed receiver to oversee the closed properties and make sure they do not become blighted.
Statement from City Attorney Barbara Parker:
“I am very pleased with Judge Harbin-Forte’s tentative decision. Shutting these hotels will make a tremendous difference for families and businesses in the neighborhood. I know the neighborhood, I’ve marched in the neighborhood, I frequent businesses in the neighborhood, and I’m horrified by what I’ve seen there.
Closing the businesses for a year is a drastic step, but it was necessary. We hope it will give them time to make necessary improvements and come up with a business plan that doesn’t rely on prostitution as a main source of revenue.
People should not have to walk a gauntlet of prostitution every time they leave the house. Kids should not have to be harassed by pimps or exposed to human trafficking as they walk to and from school. We will not allow businesses to make a living from the abuse and exploitation of women and girls in our community.”
Notes on cases:
- National Lodge – owned by the Patel family at 1711 International Blvd. City’s evidence cites numerous police reports for prostitution involving undercover officers – including three involving underage girls. Since the court ordered a preliminary injunction in October, prostitution has continued there (one incident caught on tape by police and many incidents witnessed by neighbors).
- Economy Inn – owned by the Khatri family at 122 E. 12th Street. In Sept. 2005 the City declared the Economy a public nuisance based on more than a decade of complaints about drug & prostitution activity. However, acts of prostitution continued unabated. City’s evidence includes six incidents of rape – three of those involving minors. In one case, a 14 year old girl was raped by two men at the motel. In another case, OPD rescued a 16 year old girl who was kidnapped, taken to the Economy Inn and forced to work at a prostitute. In another case, a woman was kidnapped from a gas station in Sacramento, forced to work as a prostitute in Oakland and raped by a pimp at the Economy Inn. There are numerous other police reports about violence and prostitution, including child prostitution, at the property. In 2008, a minister helping a prostitute escape from her pimp was shot by the pimp in the parking lot of the Economy Inn. A man was murdered in room 214 of the Economy Inn during a botched robbery by two prostitutes and a pimp. The owners of the Economy Inn had another motel in Redwood City that was closed under the Red Light Abatement Act in 1991.