The Howard Johnson hotel on Hotel Circle in Mission Valley has been ordered by City Attorney Jan Goldsmith’s office to pay $10,000 in fines and over $21,000 in investigative costs to the City of San Diego as a result of ongoing prostitution activities at the facility with the owner and staff’s complacency.
In less than a year, the San Diego Police Department’s VICE squad tallied 18 prostitution-related arrests on the property, one involving human trafficking of a minor.
The hotel was found to have no on-site security, inadequate lighting, minimal video surveillance, and a lax registration process that allowed guests to pay cash for a room without requiring a deposit.
As part of the settlement under the city’s Red Light Abatement Act, hotel operator Chhatrala Hospitality Group, LLC, owned by Hemant Chhatrala, must hire a round-the-clock security guard and install additional cameras. Lighting on the property also must be improved, and signs to deter criminal activity will be posted. Hotel employees will henceforth have to require an additional deposit for rooms paid in cash, take photocopies of driver’s licenses or ID cards for all guests and visitors, keep a record of vehicles registered to guests and visitors, and maintain a “Do Not Rent” list of problematic guests.
Payment of the $10,000 civil penalty has been stayed for six months, pending Chhatrala’s full compliance with the new requirements and the submission of weekly reports to the City Attorney’s Office.