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There's No Room at This Inn Either

December 27, 1987

With the furor created by recent cold weather and the condition of the homeless, nothing has changed regarding the insensitivity of some local government officials.

For the past 41 years I have owned and operated the James Hotel, a 46-room residential hotel in Compton, which has accommodated poor and homeless people as part of the Los Angeles County welfare voucher program. The hotel has been closed since a May 11 fire, and the City of Compton refuses to give me a building permit to rebuild the hotel and reopen it. The city has ordered the hotel demolished, citing the expiration of a nonconforming-zone status.

The hotel was built in 1924 before the existence of zoning in the area. In 1946 the area was zoned Residential R-3, and the hotel was given a nonconforming-use status for 35 years. A new conditional use permit and variance have been denied on the grounds that under present zoning I need 46 parking spaces, one for every room in the hotel, instead of the 22 parking spaces I now have. The fact that very few of my guests, who are mostly welfare recipients, have cars was not even considered.

The real reason for this demolition order is that the city has a redevelopment program and is currently building 110 town houses across the street from the hotel. The hotel is regarded as "unsightly and nonconforming," a detriment to sales. The same Redevelopment Agency is now building a 300-room high-rise luxury hotel. Rest assured that there will be no room at that inn for poor and homeless people.

ALBERT C. EISEN

Malibu

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