The Riverside County Board of Supervisors today directed staff to draw up tentative provisions for a possible ordinance to crack down on hotels and motels that cater to prostitutes and their clients.
“Prostitution, combined with drug abuse, is a prevalent problem,” said
Supervisor Jeff Stone, who proposed implementing an anti-pandering measure encompassing all of the county’s unincorporated communities.
“We need a multi-pronged approach to regulate the hotel-motel industry,” he said. “There need to be disincentives to providing a place for this type of activity.”
The board voted 4-0 — with Supervisor John Tavaglione absent — to direct the Office of County Counsel to study the feasibility of an ordinance and report back with tentative provisions in 60 days.
Stone said the county’s ordinance might replicate one regulating overnight hotel and motel stays in the city of Los Angeles.
According to county attorney Pamela Walls, the city of Riverside also has an ordinance to stymie illicit activity at lodges, which could guide the county’s effort.
“Where property is devoted to the business of a hospitality establishment and is held out to the public as a place where transient persons will be received and entertained as guests for compensation, it is affected with a public interest and the business and use are subject to reasonable public regulation,” Stone wrote in his “Hospitality Ordinance” proposal.
The supervisor said escalating levels of ”human trafficking and prostitution in unincorporated areas of Riverside County” required a strong response by local authorities.
He pointed specifically to the Hemet Valley.
“I’m not going to rest until these issues … go away,” he said.
According to the supervisor, a new ordinance might include a prohibition against renting rooms by the hour or knowingly renting to prostitutes or their clients.
Supervisor Kevin Jeffries expressed concerns about overreaching and penalizing establishments that depend on short-term business, including travelers who only want to snag a few hours rest before hitting the road again.
Stone said any ordinance would incorporate exemptions for legitimate short turnarounds.