Oakland seeks to shut down hotel alleging squalid conditions

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The city of Oakland is seeking to shut down a single room occupancy hotel near downtown for allegedly being a center of drug activity and housing people in unsafe living conditions, the city attorney's office said today.

The city filed the suit on Monday against the absentee owners of the Grand Hotel at 651 W. Grand Ave.

The property allegedly has been a center of drug sales, including storage and distribution of cocaine and heroin, and police have arrested 23 people for drug crimes there since April 2013, finding guns and large amounts of drugs, according to the city attorney's office.

The hotel is owned by Oakland JMO, LLC, a company that is not licensed to do business in California, according to the city attorney's office. The company is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and was incorporated in May 2012, two months before it bought the West Grand property.

A man who answered the phone at the business today said single rooms with shared bathrooms were available for rent.

Tenants pay checks to the address of a Beverley Hills attorney who acts as an agent for the company and is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, according to the city attorney's office.

Inspectors have found numerous building and fire code violations that include a lack of fire extinguishers and alarms, exposed and unsafe wiring, broken windows, mold and cockroach infestations, overflowing dumpsters, nonworking toilets and showers, cooking appliances used in hallways and other unsanitary conditions, the city attorney's office said.

The city is seeking to shut down the hotel for a year as a public nuisance, asking the court to appoint a receiver to seize the property, relocate the tenants and make necessary repairs and hold the owners responsible for the costs.

The city attorney's office is also seeking damages for unpaid rental fees and civil penalties and damages from the owners. The city also seeks to have the owners live at the building until the nuisance is abated.

"The owners of the West Grand Hotel are responsible for the appalling conditions in the building and for allowing their property to become a public nuisance in the neighborhood," City Attorney Barbara Parker said in a statement.

"Every tenant in our city has a right to safe and humane living conditions," she said. "Unfortunately the owners of the West Grand Hotel treat their tenants as nothing more than ATM machines while their buildings literally fall apart."
Copyright 2019 by Bay City News, Inc. Republication, re-transmission or reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. Is prohibited.