An alleged maternity hotel operating out of a hilltop mansion in Chino Hills has apparently shut down after city officials obtained a temporary restraining order against its owners.
The mansion allegedly housed women from China who traveled to California to give birth to American citizen babies.
In a Dec. 7 court filing, Chino Hills officials describe a seven-bedroom house divided into 17 bedrooms and 17 bathrooms, with mothers and their babies staying in 10 of the rooms. The owners did not obtain permits to remodel the property, nor were they allowed to operate a business in a residential zone, the complaint stated.
Neighbors on Woodglen Drive complained of cars speeding in and out of the mansion's driveway. In September, about 2,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled down the hill because of an overloaded septic system.
Last month, a group called Not in Chino Hills staged a protest against the facility.
City officials who inspected the alleged hotel said conditions inside were dangerous, with exposed wiring, missing smoke alarms and holes in the bedroom floors. They found brochures titled "USA Los Angeles Hermas International Club Guidance on How to Have an American Baby," according to the Dec. 7 complaint. One woman said she paid $150 a day for her room. A receipt from another guest totaled $27,000 for a stay of several months, the complaint said.
So-called birth tourism is widespread in the San Gabriel Valley, with Chinese-language websites advertising rooms in single-family homes or luxury apartment complexes. The women typically enter the country on tourist visas and stay for about a month after giving birth. The child has the option of returning to the U.S. for schooling, and the parents may petition for a green card when the child turns 21.
The practice does not violate federal immigration laws, but some maternity hotels have run afoul of local ordinances.
On Dec. 27, San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Ben Kayashima granted Chino Hills' request for a temporary restraining order. A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 17 to determine whether the order should be extended.
The Woodglen Drive house now appears to be unoccupied, city spokeswoman Denise Cattern said Thursday.
Hai Yong Wu, one of the owners, could not be reached for comment.
"It's about time. This thing should have shut down a long time ago," said Rossana Mitchell, a founder of Not in Chino Hills. "I'm glad to hear it."