Costa Mesa Motor Inn demolition for luxury apartments to displace low-income families

COSTA MESA, Calif. (KABC) -- The planned demolition of a motel in Costa Mesa means many families who've made it their home will have to find a new place to live.

For many who call the Costa Mesa Motor Inn home, like 13-year-old Rudee Lambaren and her five family members, it's all they can afford.

"It's the only thing we can afford right now and we're trying to look for a place right now, but everything's so expensive," said Rudee's mother, who wished to not be identified.

A 300-square foot hotel room has been the Lambaren's family home for the last eight years and they're not alone.

City officials said 49 of the hotel's 236 rooms are used by long-term renters.

But that could end soon as the city planning commission just approved the owner's plan to tear down the Motor Inn to build a luxury apartment complex.

Commission chairman Robert Dickson said the move would fix a property with several issues, including numerous 911 calls.

"A very last minute stop gap as a motel, it was working for that purpose," Dickson said. "It's not preferable, it's not desirable at all, so I think this is a win-win for everyone."

Dickson said the developer wants to help the families at Motor Inn find new housing and give them $1,500 on top of a refund for three months of rent.

But affordable housing advocates argue it's not enough as they called for at least 20 percent of the new complex to go to low-income families.

"Do the right thing," said Kathy Esfahani with the Costa Mesa Affordable Housing Coalition. "Include affordable housing for the poor as part of the new apartment complex."

The current plan calls for 10 percent to be reserved for moderate income renters.

The plan is scheduled to go before the city council on Nov. 3.
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