Image via Fresno City Council

published on May 17, 2019 - 1:40 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

The Fresno City Council has approved of initiating a process to reform motels that have become magnets for human trafficking, an issue that is being increasingly prioritized by council members and Mayor Lee Brand.

On a recent tour of the most poorly reputed hotels, city leaders say they saw firsthand the severity of the issue and its human impact. Primarily in District 3, motels have become hotspots for drug trade and human trafficking, resulting in a high volume of police calls. The lack of tourist visitors to areas like Parkway Drive has led motels to serve as substandard permanent housing for the poorest in Fresno, plagued by health and safety code violations.

Councilmembers Arias, Esparza and Soria brought forth a resolution to develop a motel inspection program they hope will lead to improved motel management and create conversion opportunities. Failure by motel owners to improve operations and address code violations will result in the properties taken into receivership and sold to build safe, quality and affordable housing, according to a news release.

“The Central Valley’s epicenter of human and drug trafficking has been put on notice, we will no longer tolerate their victimization of our kids, women, men families and neighborhoods,” Arias said. “They will be held accountable as we do any other slumlord. Our goal is to end this criminal magnet and replace it with safe, quality and affordable housing our families deserve.”

The proposal will move toward the next steps in the approval process, including public hearings at the Airport Commission and Planning Commission.

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