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Council Closes Troubled Motel

Los Angeles

March 14, 2002|JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday revoked the operating permit of the Sunset Pacific Motel in Silver Lake, which police called one of the most dangerous properties in the city.

The 10-0 council vote came after a 20-year community effort to shut down the motel. Police and neighbors have complained that the three-story, 37-room building at 4301 Sunset Blvd. is a den of drug use, shootings and prostitution.

Owner Edward Eng, who had insisted that the motel was safe, said in an interview before the council vote that he realized the motel had become rundown. He said he wanted to apologize to the community.

Eng said he was influenced by last week's City Council planning and land use committee hearing, in which community members and police officers spoke of how neighbors felt unsafe.

"I now realize there's a problem," said Eng, a lawyer and accountant who lives in Los Feliz. "I'm not even going to object to this."

Councilman Eric Garcetti said before the vote that it was too late for apologies from Eng.

"He has a history of using every last legal avenue he has," said Garcetti, whose district includes the motel. "He realized he was backed into a corner and decided to turn a new face."

In the past, Eng argued that Los Angeles Police Department officers paid homeless people to hang around his motel to scare people into thinking it was a dangerous location--an accusation police called ridiculous.

The property at Sunset Boulevard and Bates Avenue is in escrow for sale to Balubhai and Sardaben Patel, who plan to convert it into a national franchise motel.

Mike Patel, a spokesman for the buyers, said the deal is expected to be finalized in April. Eng reduced the price from $1.5 million to $1.1 million, Patel said.

He said he plans to live at the motel while managing it to ensure that drug dealers, gang members and prostitutes are no longer common fixtures.

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