Oakland tries to close hotel known for prostitution


Visitors to the hotel get a warning about prostitution in the area. Owners of the National Lodge say they're trying hard to stop their motel from being a hooker favorite. But the Oakland city attorney says the owners are not doing enough.

A surveillance system, placards and posters warning that everyone is recorded when entering the property are a few new strategies the attorney for owners of the National Lodge have started in an effort to stop prostitution.

"In fact there was one person came to this motel and tried to bring a prostitute in; my clients kicked him out and then my clients wrote a letter and sent it to his home," defense attorney Daniel Horowitz said.

But Horowitz says a financially strapped city is part of the problem, especially when a stressed police department doesn't even respond to calls.

Hiral Patel says he's kept a yearlong log of all the times he's called police and no one has responded. Horowitz says the city is unfairly targeting his clients.

People who have come here from other countries, who are trying to run businesses, who would love the neighborhood to improve, so that they can rent to truckers, to families visiting their children at UC Berkeley," Horowitz said.

Prostitution has been a long time problem along International Boulevard, with the city and other entities trying a number of strategies to crack down, including a billboard campaign.

But neighbors say certain area motels, including the National Lodge, are a hornet's nest of hooker activity.

"The only business that really makes money off of our misery is the motel," Reynaldo Terrazas said.

Terrazas say he sees a parade around the National Lodge of all manner of prostitutes.

"Well, sometimes you have a fat day, sometimes we have a midget day, we have all these things going on, we have a child day," Terrazas said.

The city attorney says vice cops tracked a teenager here to hook up with a john recently.

The case against the National Lodge continues next Tuesday. The city attorney says another suit begins next Friday against the Economy Motel. If the city attorney's office is successful, a total of three motels will be shut down for a year to force owners to re-work their business models.

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