Arlington wants to close motel center of “criminal activity”

ARLINGTON – Arlington city officials are trying to shut down a motel they say is teeming with criminal activity.

The Smokey Point Motor Inn, located at 17329 Smokey Point Drive, has been a crime hotspot for years, according to a lawsuit filed this month by the city of Arlington in Snohomish County Superior Court. The city says it has tried to work with current and former owners, to no avail.

Conditions in the motel just east of I-5 constitute a “danger to public health, the continued existence of which poses an immediate and emergency threat to public health, safety and well-being.” others, ”the city attorney wrote in court documents.

An Arlington officer wrote in court documents that police were called to the motel 253 times between January 1 and the end of August; 332 times last year; and 373 times in 2019. The calls were generally related to drug-related activity, according to the officer. One day at the end of last month, for example, the police were called to the motel five times.

Local hotels of similar sizes don’t need the same amount of law enforcement response, Arlington Police Chief Jonathan Ventura told the Daily Herald.

On April 1, Arlington Police and the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office arrested 10 people who parked in the motel’s parking lot and left shortly after, an officer wrote in court documents. They also seized methamphetamine and heroin.

Now the city wants to put the motel in court custody and possibly shut it down for a year. The owner declined to comment.

Owners nearby have reported vandalism, public urination and defecation and have felt intimidated and harassed by motel patrons. A local business official said he had had to repair the fence next to the hostel six times since April. A property manager said they have to hire someone to clean the needles on a daily basis.

“We just want it to be a livable community,” said Chief Ventura.

Arlington City Attorney Steven Peiffle wrote to the former owners in March 2020, warning them the city would seek an injunction to close the motel if the situation did not improve. In September of last year, these owners sold the property to Sunlite Co. for $ 5.5 million, according to property records. The Secretary of State’s business register indicates that the owner of Sunlite is Angela Yun.

Just days after the sale, Peiffle wrote to the new owner that it was their responsibility to make sure the motel was not a nuisance. In the year since that letter, the problem has not improved, according to the lawsuit.

On June 9, Arlington Police served the owners with a notice that the property was in violation of city code.

“The units in the building are used for the purpose of illegally manufacturing, delivering, selling, storing or donating any controlled substance,” Ventura wrote in the notice.

Ventura has warned owners that the city will take legal action if conditions at the motel do not improve.

The owner responded the next day with a series of measures the motel would take to prevent further criminal activity on the property. She said the company would kick out “illegal customers”; no longer “take on any suspicious customers who may engage in illegal activities”; had already installed fences to keep homeless people away from the motel; and planned to hire a security guard to be on the scene from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.

In another letter to the owners on June 18, Peiffle said the city found these suggestions “inadequate”. Based on conversations with police and other hotel managers, he came up with more than a half-dozen steps the motel could take to minimize criminal activity. The suggestions included the requirement for ID to rent rooms, the requirement to rent the rooms for at least 24 hours, the installation of cameras to record the parking lot and common areas of the motel and the requirement to pay for rooms with credit or debit cards.

The owner responded with another list of actions the motel would take to comply with these guidelines. The owner said she would purchase a high-quality video security system, only accept credit or debit cards for upfront payment, and contract with a local company to tow unregistered vehicles, among other measures .

Peiffle wrote this month in court documents, however, that nothing had changed.

“The promises to change things have had no impact,” he wrote. “In fact, these are just empty promises. ”

Jake Goldstein Street: 425-339-3439; [email protected] Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

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