By Jason Ruiz, Long Beach Post | Published Sept. 14, 2022 10:43 a.m.
A property in North Long Beach that had been labeled as one of the largest nuisance motels in Long Beach is being purchased by the city and converted into temporary housing for those experiencing homelessness.
The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve the $16.6 million purchase of the Luxury Inn located at 5950 Long Beach Blvd. The 78-room motel will be purchased and renovated with the help of a $30.5 grant the city received last month for both the motel purchase and to build modular homes for people who need housing.
In total, the city is projected to spend over $21 million on acquiring the motel and completing any repairs that might be needed to make it suitable for living in prior to anyone moving in. The city currently expects renovations to last until July, with the site being ready for occupancy by October 2023.
The city still has to find an operator to run the site.
City officials called the deal a “double benefit” because it will simultaneously remove a nuisance motel from the city while expanding its capacity to house people experiencing chronic homelessness.
“This will inch us forward but it is progress that we can’t deny,” said Councilmember Al Austin, who represents the area where the Luxury Inn is located. “Our goal is to provide housing, shelter and a humane living situation for broken people.”
The city said in 2018 that the Luxury Inn was one of six nuisance motels that had racked up thousands of calls for service, with 800 crimes being logged between January 2014 and May 2017. The Luxury Inn was also the site of a murder in 2017.
Long Beach has been trying to root out nuisance motels for some time, even launching a pilot program a few years ago as it worked toward a new law that would punish properties that allowed human trafficking, violent crime and other nuisance activity to happen on its premises.
Councilmember Rex Richardson noted the city is going through a zoning process for the area called the UPLAN (Uptown Planning Land Use and Neighborhood Strategy), which seeks to revitalize the North Long Beach area with fewer business uses that are outdated, such as motels—though existing businesses would be grandfathered in.
A few members of the public spoke against the purchase of the motel and the city’s intention to use it as temporary housing for homeless individuals. Julie Jones, a resident of the area, questioned why North Long Beach was absorbing so many of the city’s facilities that are intended to house the homeless.
“I’m very happy to see the hotel go, because the police are always going there, but I don’t think a homeless shelter has to be our solution,” Jone said.
With the purchase of the Luxury Inn, the city now owns two motels through the state’s Project Homekey program, and two other local motels have been purchased by the county.
Two locations are in Downtown and Central Long Beach, while a Motel 6 near Cal State Long Beach and now the Luxury Inn in North Long Beach give the city access to hundreds of private units that can help house those experiencing homelessness.
North Long Beach has also been home to the city’s winter shelter and the city’s first year-round shelter facility.
Long Beach is also renting the Days Inn on Pacific Coast Highway as part of a different program called Project Roomkey, which began during the pandemic to get people emergency housing but is now ending.
The grant the city is using to purchase the Luxury Inn includes about two years of operating expenses, but the city will have to identify about $2.1 million in the short term to run the facility once it opens.
The projected cost to run the motel as temporary housing is $1.9 million annually, and part of the deal requires the city to issue a covenant that keeps the facility as a homeless housing facility for the next 15 years.
City officials expect that about $5.6 million will be left over from the grant for the construction of about 30-35 tiny homes at the city’s Multi-Service Center in West Long Beach.