Fresno's notorious Motel Drive to be cleaned up

Friday, May 17, 2019
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The motels along Highway 99 have become havens for prostitution and drug dealing. Now the city will start cleaning them up.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The motels along Fresno's Motel Drive - along Highway 99, both north and south of downtown - have become havens for prostitution and drug dealing.

Charlie Ruyle has lived here since 1951 before the motels were built. He says things are worse now than ever.

"You see so much of it you just get disgusted....The last three or four years it's gotten bad - prostitutes out here."

But City Council Member Miguel Arias notes families with children also live in these buildings, paying from $50 to $80 a night.

For many folks, these motels are the only places they can rent.

Homeless people are also relocated here.

The city council on Thursday gave unanimous approval to a plan to begin inspecting the motels that have permanent or long-term tenants, requiring them to meet health and safety codes of other rentals.

They will also be prohibited from renting rooms by the hour.

Arias says some owners are eager to sell and he hopes the city can persuade reputable developers to come in.

"We have to structurally fix the area and that includes tearing down the motels and rebuilding affordable housing that is properly managed."

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand agrees with inspections and supports forcing the owners to make the places livable.

"Its all about trying to improve the quality of life for the people of Fresno," he says.

The council will hold a series of public hearings and work to get funding for the building inspections and enforcement in the next city budget.

It's expected to take about six months for the changes to take effect.

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