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Buena Park commission votes to close Crescent Motel over high crime, code violations

February 23, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
After more than 700 police calls in one year, the Buena Park city planning commission voted to shut down the Crescent Motel. Now the owners say they plan to appeal that ruling despite the high crime rate and numerous code violations.

Owner Loc Van Nguyen allowed Eyewitness News to tour the property. Nguyen says he wants to be open about what he's doing to repair the reputation of his establishment. But while he's busy cleaning house, city leaders have moved forward to shut him down, saying code violations and crime have made it a public safety issue.

For $40 per night, the Crescent Motel is a bargain for visitors. It's located just across the street from the Knott's Berry Farm amusement park in Buena Park. But to city leaders the motel is a magnet for all sorts of crime.

"This motel would tie up one, two, sometimes three of those patrol cars arresting parolees, arresting prostitutes, dealing with the other criminal element," said Joel Rosen, director of the Buena Park Community Development Department.

In 2011 police made 732 calls to the motel for crimes ranging from disturbing the peace to drugs, along with 126 arrests.

This week, the city's planning commission voted to revoke the motel's permit.

"I do whatever they ask me to do, but they refuse to give me a chance. They want to close my motel," said owner Nguyen.

Nguyen says he leased the property out and was not aware of how bad management had become. The San Diego resident says he and his wife have now moved into the motel to oversee the repairs after firing management.

"All the repairs they ask for I finished, and now I do more. I try to renew," said Nguyen. "I am remodeling."

Nguyen showed Eyewitness News some of the work already under way. He says so far, seven of his 86 rooms have undergone a makeover.

As for the high crime his motel has attracted, Nguyen says he wasn't aware.

"They never gave me a chance. They never mentioned about the police problem. Never," said Nguyen.

But that is not swaying critics of the Crescent Motel who want to see it shut down.

"There is no excuse for not knowing what is happening on your property," said Joel Rosen. "As the owner you are responsible for the management and operations of the business on your own property."

Nguyen has 10 days to appeal the city's decision. The planning commission is scheduled to meet March 14 to finalize its decision.