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Costa Mesa files complaint against ‘crime-infested’ New Harbor Inn

The battle over Costa Mesa’s so-called “problem” motels is headed to court, as city officials announced Monday that they have filed a public nuisance complaint aimed at forcing either the closure or the cleanup of the New Harbor Inn.

The move, if successful, “will bring the blighted and crime-infested motel on Harbor Boulevard under court control,” according to a city news release.

In its complaint, filed in Orange County Superior Court, the city is asking authorities to either shut down the 32-room motel — temporarily or permanently — or appoint a receiver to take over its management.

Another possibility is for the court to require the property’s owner to “comply with existing law and completely revamp its business procedures, hire armed security guards and improve lighting and other areas of concern,” the city’s news release says.

“As we saw with a recent stabbing at a local motel, these establishments continue to be a detriment to our community and are havens for prostitutes, drug users and other criminal elements,” Mayor Steve Mensinger said in a statement, referring to an incident last week at the Motel 6 on Newport Boulevard. “By taking this action against this public nuisance, the City Council is trying to eliminate the unlawful use of the property.”

A call to the New Harbor Inn on Monday was not answered.

The city’s news release describes the motel, located at 2205 Harbor Blvd., as a “source for a disproportionate amount of police calls,” generating nearly 1,800 since 2010.

The motel is also a “known locale for drug storage and sales,” the release alleges.

City inspections at the motel have also turned up multiple code infractions, officials say, “including substandard property maintenance and health, life and safety violations.”

Mensinger said City Hall’s “drastic intervention,” which was approved unanimously during a closed-session council meeting, “is necessary given the pattern and practice of bad business operations.”

The New Harbor Inn is among the city’s targeted motels officials have long derided as blight and hotbeds for crime, prostitution and drug use. In recent years, code and law enforcement raids have examined rooms within Alibaba Motel, Costa Mesa Motor Inn and Sandpiper Motel and issued various fines accordingly.

Last month, the Costa Mesa Police Department announced a special investigations unitmade 32 prostitution-related arrests over a two-week period, with most of the arrests stemming from activity at the Vagabond Inn on Harbor Boulevard and the La Quinta Inn on South Coast Drive.

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lucas.money@latimes.com

Twitter: @LukeMMoney


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