Dirty sheets, cockroaches and bed bugs could be lurking in Kansas City hotel and motel rooms without any enforcement requiring cleanup, but a proposed ordinance could change that.
The Kansas City, MO, Health Department wants local instead of state control to make sure all hotels and motels meet safety standards. Even though they may not all meet a certain standard of cleanliness and safety, there is not a single hotel or motel out of the 101 in Kansas City that is currently shut down. Inspectors says it's because violators aren't being held responsible or punished for failure to fix the problems.
After 18 months of failing to pass health department inspections, officials shut down a motel near East 31st Street and White Avenue in December 2012.
"Significant rodent infestation, roaches, bed bug were found," said Bert Malone with the health department of the motel.
Since then, other hotels and motels with similar skin-crawling conditions remain open.
"We have not seen any clear enforcement. That is why we want to move forward," said Naser Jouhari, the Kansas City Health Department environmental health services division manager.
Currently the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services contracts the Kansas City Health Department to inspect hotels and motels.
Health department inspectors search for fire hazards, bug infestations and other health issues but, when they find them, they must wait for a state prosecutor to take action.
"Where is the follow through? Where is our ability to bring an operator that is in non-compliance back into compliance?" said Bud Nicol, the Hotel and Lodging Association of Greater Kansas City's executive director.
Nicol said if businesses fail to meet health and safety standards during a second follow-up inspection, the case is handed over to the state.
"To be able to prosecute the bad apples, that is falling very low on the agenda," he said. "What we are concerned as an industry is if a guest is staying at a hotel or motel that has lost its license but the public doesn't know it has lost its license, it will reflect badly on our industry and reflect badly on our city."
He said reputable hotels and motels support local inspections and enforcement.
"We are opposed to having to pay both the city and the state at the same time," Nicol said.
A new ordinance could ask voters to approve fees for hotel and motel inspections and permits. Fees would be used to enforce the new ordinance locally instead of depending on the state.
"All professional hoteliers will have no problem complying with the inspection routine," Nicol said.
If council members support putting the proposed ordinance on a ballot, voters could be asked to make the final decision during a special election on April 8.
Annual permit fees would range from $150 to $350. Annual re-inspection fees would range from $75 to $175. The fees would be based on the number of rooms at each motel or hotel.
Annual permit fees to operate and re-inspection fees based upon the number of rooms in a lodging establishment as follows:
Number of Rooms
Less Than 50
Each Additional 300 Rooms
Annual Permit Fee
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