North Hills motel where 4 have died should be declared a public nuisance

The City Attorney’s Office is asking a judge to declare a North Hills motel a public nuisance, saying in a new lawsuit that the business for decades has been “an epicenter of serious crime, including murders,” and is located across the street from two schools.

The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit was filed Thursday against the Hometown Inn along with 74-year-old Gerald Wang and 69-year-old Diane Wang, who bought the motel in 2001 for $900,000 and also own other motels in Los Angeles, the suit states. The relationship between the Wangs is not stated in the city’s court papers.

“For decades, the property has been an epicenter of serious crime, including murders, shootings, kidnappings, violent assaults, narcotics sales, crimes involving stolen vehicles and other illegal activity that endangers the health and safety of the community,” the suit states.

Sepulveda Middle School and Carlos Santana Arts Academy are located across the street from the 64-unit motel, the suit states.

Under the ownership of the Wangs, the Sepulveda Boulevard property has been the site of ongoing crime and there have been four deaths there since January 2020, including a murder involving gang members, according to the suit.

Along with the declaration of a public nuisance, the suit asks that the Wangs be ordered to live on the property until the problems are abated. A man who answered the phone at the motel said that neither of the Wangs were present, and he declined to address the allegations.

Citing it as a recent example of a serious crime at the Hometown Inn, the suit states that the LAPD on Oct. 24 investigated a stolen car report there and found a man and his 12-year-old son sitting inside, the suit states.

As officers approached, the man left the car, ran and pointed a gun at the pursuing officers, according to the suit. Police opened fire, but the armed man escaped and left his son behind, the suit states. Officers found methamphetamine and heroin inside the car, the suit states.

“For years, prosecutors and LAPD officers have reached out to defendants as part of their ongoing effort to work with defendants to address the nuisance activity at the property, all to no avail,” the suit alleges.

In October 2020, the LAPD hosted a motel managers’ meeting to discuss best practices for addressing criminal activity at area motels and hand-delivered an invitation to the Hometown Inn’s front desk, but no one from the motel attended, the suit states.

According to the motel’s web site, a $75 per night rate is available for stays of seven days.

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