Carrollton is Cracking Down on Suspect Hotels, But Owners Say the City's Going Too Far

Categories: Legal Battles

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Here at Unfair Park, we're suckers for "people trying to take shit from Asians" stories. The latest installment takes place in Carrollton, Texas, where the town's seven hotels are each owned by Asians, and where the city is coming down on them. Hard.

Some are more rundown than others, but they're affordable, and probably do nicely as long as you're not expecting the Ritz. According to the owners, though, that's part of the problem. They claim that Carrollton's trying to use city code to force them all out, and while no one's playing the race card outright, there are whispers of a campaign to un-Asian the city's hotel business.

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It started in 2008, when the city passed an ordinance to "increase the accountability of owners and operators for criminal activity, for failure to maintain safe, sanitary and decent conditions and for the blighting effects these create in the community."

According to the ordinance, the city recorded a combined 8,242 police and fire calls to the hotels between 2001 and 2007. The Guest Inn was responsible for 2,646 itself, and The Lone Star Inn wasn't far behind with 2,102 calls.

A neighborhood watch organization called Citizens on Patrol (COPs) inflated the numbers by calling cops about double-parked vehicles and blacks maybe or maybe not loitering in the parking lot. But other times the calls were more serious. In the ordinance, the city cited cases of general dilapidation, fire hazards, unsanitary conditions, illegal drug use and prostitution in its ordinance, and photographed among other things rooms in assorted hotels with broken locks, mouse poo in the lobby, mattresses with dried blood on top and crack pipes and escort ads (ahem) underneath.

So Carrollton passed new lodging standards to be enforced by code inspectors. If a hotel racked up violations for more than 10 percent of its total rooms (so 11 violations for 100 rooms), its certificate would be revoked, and even if they were corrected, the owner wouldn't be able to reapply for three years.

The owners were furious and sued. It seemed punitive, and they claimed that the ordinance was a "Hotel-Eradication License Scheme" to rid Carrollton of budget hotels so that more expensive ones could move in. They also said the city inspectors were harassing guests.

InTown Suites claims guests have complained about the hotel inspectors. Five or six building inspectors will enter an occupied room at once without guests' consent, and sometimes kick the occupants out, the hotel claims. InTown Suites are extended stay, where people lodge for weeks or months at a time, and inspectors rifle through their cabinets and nightstands, the suit claims.

One paranoid guest booby-trapped his drawers with clear tape during an inspection. When he returned, he found the tape broken and his once-folded underwear disheveled.

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InTown Suites has two extended stay hotels in the city, and both were denied lodging licenses. So InTown Suites filed a lawsuit last year against the city, the property standards board, the city manager and the environmental services department. The Asian-American Hotel Owners Association recently lent its support, as well as the Texas Hotel and Lodging Association and, the largest of them all, the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

City officials declined to comment this week, but in its official written response to the lawsuit, the city claims it has "a legitimate governmental interest in economic development within its limits which more than justifies the need to establish standards for hotels."

"The major issue," says InTown Suites' attorney Richard Barrett-Cuetara, "is that we believe this is the most over-the-top inspection performed by a jurisdiction my client has experienced in the country." InTown Suites has 138 hotels in 21 different states. A city hearing is expected in the next 30 to 60 days.

Here is the lengthy lawsuit in its entirety:

InTown Suites v. Carrollton Lawsuit

Carrollton's response:
Carrollton Response to InTown Suites Lawsuit



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23 comments
villa tuscany
villa tuscany

One of the general rule is competition. If you are in a business of same profession then there are always a competition and hotel owners have to attention for that.

Timetomoveon
Timetomoveon

Why didn't you link to the article where you called the owner of the Shamrock station a racist with absolutely no proof?

I suppose you never issued an apology either.

Jim Aroyo
Jim Aroyo

I stayed at the Intown Suites in Carrollton on Westgrove for one week.   The place is horrible.  One night in the room above me it sounded like someone was bodyslamming another person against the wall for 20 minutes.  It turns out two brothers were fighting.  Out of the 7 nights I was there, 6 of them were extremely noisy.  I couldn't wait to get out of there.

Ed D.
Ed D.

So "a legitimate governmental interest in economic development" is the firm conservative principle that government picks winners and losers, and that private property rights are for suckers, right?

RCAFRAF
RCAFRAF

Many guests complain Carrollton's Inspectors are just rude and arrogant. The illegal searches of guest drawers has nothing to do with annual inspections. Why does Carrollton act like it's above the law? It's supposed to be a business friendly community! Yea right.

Guest
Guest

"The Guest Inn was responsible for 2,646 itself, and The Lone Star Inn wasn't far behind with 2,102 calls."

Man you better bring your own sheets when staying at those places.  Total flop houses.

trannyntraining
trannyntraining

I stayed in the InTown Suites location off Forest Ln. a few years ago(my roomies parents were visiting so I did the nice Islamic thing, and let them stay in my room). Boy, they was definitely some shady, shady shit going down....but I did enjoy the rooms amenities! Cool story, huh? Right on, bros.

Alfredo
Alfredo

Dallas has been trying with variouos levels of success to get rid hot sheet motels for years. 

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Don't kid yourselves--they've all seen much better days, especially everything between downtown Carrollton and Valwood. InTown is about as good as it gets for a Carrollton hotel, and you're still better off going to Lewisville's offerings.

Nobody
Nobody

Why? It's because the inspections are done by the Environmental Services group which in Carrollton is as close as you can get to jack booted storm troopers.  This group acts pretty much with impunity in such matters and I have yet to see the city council or that idiot city administrator call them to account for some of their actions.  Yes these hotels aren't in the best of shape but then again, in the case of where the old Red Roof and Lone Star are, what are we talking here gas stations, car dealerships and I35.. Yeah, I can see an Omni or Sheraton moving in there.

Carrollton missed out on the high end economic development years ago and now they're trying to bring it back by turning the thumb screws on businesses that don't fit their image.  Sure, if there's illegal activity clean it up.  If there's serious code violations like unsanitary conditions, work with the owners but don't try to drive business away or residents out just because they don't fit with your "pristine image" of yourself.  The whole area north of Sandy Lake road has turned into a ghost town as an example because of these policies and now in Carrollton we have a ridiculous hotel going in next to a Walmart even with faux Egyptian sculptures.  Yeah, I think that will revitalize the area, riiiight.

nomnom
nomnom

Ditto. I was in the one on Trinity Mills for about a month. While I knew I should watch my back, it really wasn't all that bad. Just a few odd smells and some loud music but absolutely no pedestrian amenities.

Urbane Planner
Urbane Planner

How's that Transient, err, Transit Oriented Development going on there in Downtown Carrollton?

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

And why did Carrollton miss out?  Ask Fat Kenny Marchant, who kept Carrollton dry while the surrounding areas wetn wet while he was mayor of Carrollton,  to insure his business interests in Lewisville could develop around Vista Ridge

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

They're building some faux-urban apartment building, likely with ground floor retail too, and likely featuring far too high a rent for what it is. Basically it'll be Carrollton's mini version of downtown Plano's urban apartments.

Other than that not a damn thing's changed.

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

I am not a big fan of the food, but every a couple times a year it is OK.  They are working on the building because the building is 80+ years old.

guest
guest

Your retort is sound. That's why I "liked" it. But Babe's is a cesspool. Hence why they are ripping the whole building apart and re-building it. DO NOT EAT THERE. REPEAT... DO NOT EAT THERE.

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

So your verbal report of stop usage is valid, right?

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

He asked about development, I don't give a shit about verbal reports of businesses. To the naked eye very little has changed, and it always appears to be a little-used stop.

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

That's not true. Babe's business is up about 20% at lunch, 30% at dinner. Not saying the patrons are riding DART to the restaurant, just saying the whole area is busier. Agave Azule recently started opening Sundays because of the demand. A cafe and po boy place opened in the last year on the square. Amici rebuilt after the fire, and business is up from before they closed.  So that a dan lot that has changed, without the eat/sleep/shop opening. 

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