OAKLAND (KCBS) – The Oakland city attorney went to court Friday in an effort to shut down two hotels accused of allowing prostitution.
For more than a decade, city officials have tried to curb what police and the community say is rampant prostitution at the National Hotel on International Boulevard and the Economy Inn on 12th Street.
“We have to take drastic measures to address a drastic problem,” said City Attorney Barbara Parker.
KCBS’ Janice Wright Reports:
The city took the hotels to court in 2010 under a California law that holds hotel owners responsible for preventing prostitution on their premises. Then last year a judge issued a preliminary injunction ordering the owners to make security improvements such as installing surveillance cameras.
Daniel Horowitz, the attorney representing the two hotels, said his clients have turned away many customers since their legal troubles began. He said the latest lawsuit accusing the hotels of not complying with the injunction scapegoats the hotels for street crime the police cannot control.
Parker said there have been several incidents since the injunction was issued, and city efforts to pressure the owners outside of court have had little effect.
She hopes to shutter the hotels for a year, “during which time they can develop a business plan that does not rely on prostitution for their revenues.”
Residents confronted by the sex trade when they walk through the area say shutting down the two hotels would go a long way towards curbing crime in the area.
“I walk past girls selling sex,” said Andy Nelson, who counsels a youth group nearby. He said there is activity on the street day and night.
“Whatever they’ve been doing to keep it from happening is not working,” Nelson said.
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