Santa Ana files lawsuit against lodge to abate criminal and drug-related activity

SANTA ANA – The city is filing a lawsuit against property owners of an apparently drug-infested California Lodge Suites and the councilman representing the area is considering an ordinance that could shutter it.

For the past few years, the lodge at 2909 S. Bristol St. has been a hub for narcotics-related criminal activity including the use, overdose and possession of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. It is commonly used to unlawfully sell, store, keep, or give away controlled substances, according to Santa Ana police reports.

“We have time and time again attempted to reach them so we can help mitigate some of the issues,” said Councilman Sal Tinajero, whose ward includes the lodge. “The fact that they’re not returning calls and not showing any interest whatsoever to mitigate these issues is problematic.”

City officials seem to have had enough. The city council on Tuesday, Aug. 15, with Mayor Miguel Pulido absent, voted 6-0 to authorize filing a lawsuit against the lodge’s property owners “to abate criminal activity at the location,” City Attorney Sonia Carvalho reported out of closed session.

Legal action is being taken under the Drug Den Abatement Act, which enables cities to seek a court order to require property owners to take all steps necessary to eliminate nuisance conditions when it is being used for unlawfully selling, serving, storing, keeping, manufacturing, distributing, transporting, or giving away illegal controlled substances.

From July 1, 2016 to July 1 of this year, the Santa Ana Police Department received more than 423 calls for service at the lodge. It has perpetuated drug-related crimes and is “a known gathering site of a documented Santa Ana criminal street gang which has been connected to gun possession arrests,” Acting Police Chief David Valentin said in a statement.

“The time has come to put a stop to the illegal activity,” Valentin said.

A lodge worker on Wednesday said he could not comment and a manager was not available.

“Hopefully they feel the fire under them and they realize that we’re serious and they start to do what they needed to do from the very beginning, which is being a good landlord,” Tinajero said of the owners. “If not, we have the right to shut it down.”

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