Motels in California city face fines for excessive police calls

The Costa Mesa City Council approved Tuesday an ordinance that calls for a $360 fine for motels that call the police too many times, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Council members in favor of the fine say these motels use the city's police as their own private security force and continue to take in problematic guests. Those opposed to the new rule say such a fine will endanger motel guests because these businesses may hesitate to call due to the penalty, the report said.

"I think we're opening a Pandora's box to encourage crime," Wendy Leece, a councilwoman, told the paper.

To be sure, motels and hotels in the area can be hit with the fine if they average more than 0.4 calls per room each month over what was called "nuisance activities," the report said. These are relatively minor offenses that reportedly include underage drinking and disturbing the peace. More serious emergencies like domestic violence or calling an ambulance are excluded from the ordinance, the report said.

City officials say some of these hotels take up a lot of police time and the ordinance would stop them from taking in potentially problematic guests, the report said.