El Segundo Cites Hotel for 70 Safety Violations

Times Staff Writer

A lengthy investigation by fire officials has uncovered more than 70 fire and safety code violations at the landmark Hacienda Hotel in El Segundo.

Managers of the 640-room hotel--most of which was built between 30 and 35 years ago--say they have already corrected many of the violations and have been working to comply with the city codes.

The El Segundo Fire Department has ordered the hotel to respond to the findings by Monday and provide a timetable for correcting the problems, Fire Chief Robert Marsh said.

“I do not consider the hotel unsafe to occupy,” Marsh said in an interview. “It is just that we have had mounting concerns over a long period of time over some areas we believe need to be updated.”


Some of the violations are highly technical and will be corrected when the hotel finishes installing sprinklers in all four of its buildings, Marsh said. The south and west towers already have sprinklers, and hotel managers say they expect to have sprinklers the other buildings by mid-1990.

Hacienda executives estimated that 30% of the 74 violations were corrected before the hotel was informed of the Fire Department’s findings last month. They said the hotel is working on the remainder.

“It is a very confusing and frustrating situation for us because we don’t understand why there is such a big push from the city when they know we are correcting all these concerns,” said Frank Godoy, Hacienda’s vice president and manager.

Marsh said: “We want to have an organized plan to bring them into compliance. That’s what we are really after.”

Other Violations

In addition to the 74 violations, the hotel was informed in November of about 50 violations that investigators thought could be resolved quickly, such as too few fire extinguishers at some locations. Marsh said most of those violations have been corrected.

Godoy said the city has known for some time that the hotel has been working to bring its buildings up to code. He said the hotel has been waiting for the city Planning Department to approve architectural plans aimed at correcting some of the problems.

In addition, under a plan approved by city officials last year, the hotel has finished installing sprinklers in its west tower. The south tower has had sprinklers since it was built in 1979, and work will begin soon on the north tower and the main building, Godoy said.

Hotel officials and Marsh agreed that some of the violations are the result of hotel add-ons built over the years under different city codes.

‘Fair Amount of Problems’

“Any hotel that that is 30-plus years old is going to have a fair amount of problems,” Marsh said, “particularly if the hotel has been added onto and revamped over the years.”

Marsh said fire officials do not classify the code violations as minor. Some will take significant structural work to correct, such as inadequate fire walls, faulty insulation around electrical wiring and several exits that need to be widened or relocated, he said.

Also, some guest rooms are not equipped with proper smoke ventilation systems or fire-resistant doors, Marsh said.

Although violations were found in all four buildings at the Hacienda, more than 30 were in the main building where the hotel’s two restaurants and ballrooms are located, fire officials said.