Manhattan Beach to modify operations of city’s Residence Inn by Marriott hotel

Former Exide battery recycling plant in Vernon at 2717 S. Indiana St. on Thursday, October 8, 2020. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG) – The Residence Inn by Marriott on Sepulveda Boulevard in Manhattan Beach could soon be at risk of losing its permit to operate.

Manhattan Beach City Council decided during a meeting this week to give a list of changes and additions to the establishment at a to-be-scheduled permit modification hearing, brought on by hotel management’s failure to comply with certain required findings in the hotel’s use permit. If management cannot adhere to council’s direction in an appropriate time frame, nor mitigate issues with short term solutions in the meantime, the next step could be a permit revocation hearing.

Increased police calls; residents’ complaints about noise, odors, security and public safety regarding the hotel this year are indications that the site is not meeting the required findings for its use permit, said Carrie Tai, community development director for the city. There is no record of any past reviews of the hotel’s permit, she added.

That activity has impacted the health, safety and welfare of those residing in the neighborhood, residents said, for which the hotel is to not cause detriment, per the permit.

The volume of police calls has also created demands that exceed the capacity of public services, Tai said. Manhattan Beach police have gotten 107 calls to the Residence Inn by Marriott over the past six months, she added, and the city has received reports from the adjacent neighborhood citing concerns with safety, crime, loud music, trespassing and smoking.

Council members at a Sept. 15 meeting ordered a review of the hotel’s permit ASAP after a Sept. 8 shooting occurred on the property.

Residents during public comment have complained to the Residence Inn as well as police about guests smoking, partying and fighting in the hotel’s parking lot, on its east side where a fence separates it from a residential neighborhood.

Police have also reported that guests are using the larger hotel rooms for parties.

David Millard, manager of the executive vice president and managing director of Washington Holdings LLC, the hotel’s investor, said that the activity could be related to a social issue in the city due to the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re not responsible for the fact that a criminal came onto our property,” Millard said of the shooting, opposing any suggestions that the hotel has invited the problems mentioned.

Residents on the east side of the property, though, said that issues have persisted for years and they have not seen them resolved.

City attorney Quinn Barrow detailed immediate operational changes for the hotel to make in a Sept. 11 email to Millard and Greg Willie, task force general manager of Evolution Hospitality, the group that manages Marriott hotels.

Per Barrow’s email, the city in September directed the hotel to:

  • enforce two-day minimum stays;
  • not accept same-day or walk-in reservations or bookings;
  • increase all room rates;
  • assign three security guards per shift;
  • require all guests to sign waivers regarding forfeiture of their $1,000 security deposit if police get disturbance complaints about that guest;
  • implement a parking control system allowing only guests to park in the lot and closely monitor room guests;
  • install a security-supervised permanent parking gate that can only be accessed with room keys; and
  • secure the east gate that separates the residential neighborhood for emergency purposes only.

Barrow also wrote that the city expects management to post signs encouraging guests to comply with Manhattan Beach’s law against smoking in public places.

Since the last discussion on the issue, police calls have dropped significantly, said Police Captain Christian Eichenlaub.

“Due to our efforts working with hotel management and ownership we’ve seen significant improvement,” Eichenlaub said. “We still have a way to go though; we haven’t received 100% compliance.”

There have been four police calls for the hotel between Sept. 9 through 30, and one call in October, Tai said.

Hotel management this week took some first steps in enhancing safety, Millard said. Hotel management on Oct. 20, the day of the review, installed motion activated lights, he added, has had an evaluation to raise the east fence to 9 feet and looking at adding a mechanical gate system.

“There are a lot of things we think we can do and we’re moving forward with those,” Millard said.

Concerned residents though, said during public comment that the timing of those measures’ implementation shows that management may not be eager to be a better neighbor, and that the fence needs to be raised higher than 9 feet to prevent hotel guests from potentially jumping over from the parking lot to the neighborhood.

Before a modification hearing takes place, city staff will advise council on what the body can and cannot legally enforce upon the hotel because the Marriott is an international franchise.

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