City Must Face Suit Over Treatment of Hotels

     DALLAS (CN) – Hoteliers can fight a law in Carrollton, Texas, that links licensing renewals to a review of criminal activity, a judge ruled.
     Intown Suites Carrollton LP and Intown Suites Trinity Mills LP sued the city and several of its officials in June 2011, arguing that the ordinances wrongfully held them responsible for the criminal activity of others. Five other hotel owners later intervened in the suit.
     The city moved to dismiss the suit three months ago, arguing the claims have become moot.
     “All challenged portions of the previous ordinances were amended and both plaintiffs and intervenors have been granted and hold current valid lodging licenses which are not subject to cancellation unless the establishments are determined to constitute a public nuisance which determination is appealable to the district court,” the city’s four-page motion stated. “No action against either plaintiffs or intervenors for license denial or cancellation is currently pending before [co-defendant] the Property Standards Board of the city of Carrollton.”
     Judge Craig Smith denied the city’s motion to dismiss and plea to the jurisdiction in an abrupt, sentence-long order on Nov. 19.
     Apartment owners in Carrollton filed three similar suits against the city in October, fighting against “crime index” ordinances that they claim scare away tenants, impose expensive fines and force them to make unfair and expensive enhancements to their properties.
     Under the contested 2011 law, the city calculates a numerical value for each multi-family property’s “crime index.” Apartment complexes that exceed a threshold number are enrolled in Carrollton’s Mandatory Apartment Crime Reduction Program.
     The apartment owners say the index is arbitrary and unfair, and that it includes crimes that apartment managers cannot be expected to control.

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