City says new hotel ordinance making an impact
Source: City of Broken Arrow
The city of Broken Arrow says data from the first quarter of 2023 shows that area lodging establishments are”more secure” following the implementation of a safe hotels ordinance.
The measure went into effect in March.
Broken Arrow Police Officer Michael Peale and Chief Building Inspector Joe Williford told the City Council that as of Aug. 11, five hotels have received the department’s “Safe Hotel Operator Permit.”
Nine hotels are still completing the required maintenance before receiving the permit.
To determine whether a hotel is operating safely, the police department calculates a “call for service ratio” by taking the number of police and fire service calls made and dividing it by the number of rooms for the specific hotel.
Regardless of the number of rooms, each hotel is assessed the same way.
The city determined that 0.6 is a fair and equitable threshold. Anything below that is acceptable, and anything higher than that is not. According to the data, all but one of the hotels has decreased their calls for service.
Only one hotel within the city limits exceeded 0.5.
"Even that hotel has made vast improvements in the number of calls for service, Peale said. “Ultimately, it's having the effect that we wanted."
The Broken Arrow Fire Department conducts the Fire and Life Safety Inspections required by the ordinance. Before the regulation, only some hotels regularly did these types of inspections.
Three of the hotels passed on the first test, four passed after two inspections, one passed after three inspections, and six took four or more inspections to pass.
"The fire department did a great job and even paid people overtime to come in and get these done and to make these hotels safer and better for everyone staying there," Peale said.
He says it was surprising that so many hotels failed on the first inspection. Still, the fire department is following up and ensuring the establishments are safe for people to stay overnight.
"As of right now, all 14 have passed their Fire and Life Safety Inspections and are good to go from that perspective until next year when they come in and apply for next year's licenses," Peale said.
As a part of the ordinance, the Code Enforcement Department also issues Maintenance Inspections for the 14 hotels.
Upon the initial assessment, only two passed these inspections. The city has never required motels to have property Maintenance Inspections before.
Some motels have had parking lot and sidewalk issues, and it's taken time to correct them
"Obviously, there are expenses related to making these improvements. If they are showing progress and improving, I want to continue working with them. I don't want to have a reputation that we aren't giving folks the opportunity to address their concerns," said City Manager Michael Spurgeon.
Of the 14 businesses, five licenses have been issued, and nine need property maintenance repairs to pass the inspections. All have agreed to come into compliance.
"Three of the motels changed ownership after the initial inspection, and one had damage from the June windstorm," Williford said.
That motel had an insurance claim in process, and so it will take longer for them to make the necessary repairs.
"I appreciate the departments doing this because we are doing a lot to bring development and people into our City," Councilor Justin Green said. "We want them to have a safe place to stay when they come here so they will come back again.