The council of Toledo proceeds to a lien on the property of the hotel | News
In an attempt to recoup costs for the city and force the reduction of several issues at the Yaquina Bay Hotel, the Toledo City Council has passed a resolution that will create a nearly $40,000 lien on the troubled property of Main Street.
At Wednesday’s regular council meeting, councilors in attendance voted in favor of a cost assessment totaling $39,417 for miscellaneous expenses and fees the property has accrued over the past four months, while its former owner and operator, Dustin Johnston of Las Vegas, Nevada, avoided a confrontation with the city council.
The building was evacuated by order of the council after a series of Oregon fire code violations were discovered during an inspection on January 14, and it was determined that the risk to residents would be too large to allow the hotel to continue to operate.
Costs accrued during the evacuation included approximately $8,000 to put displaced residents in hotels for a week, approximately $6,000 for hours worked by city employees addressing the property, $1,800 in materials to secure the building, $1,400 to use fire engines, $15,000 to conduct fire watch on the property, then another 20% of total expenses added in administrative fees for approximately $6,570.
The lien will remain attached to the property until it is repaid by the owner, currently Alivelim Holdings, which took over the property in November after Johnston failed to follow through on a purchase agreement and the property was returned to Alivelim by order of a judge.
William Fig, a lawyer representing Alivelim, told a previous town council meeting that he had been in the process of reclaiming the property and evicting Johnston since November, during which time Johnston continued to operate the hotel and the city has taken increasingly aggressive steps to try to resolve the property’s mounting issues.
Fig took issue with some of the city’s proposed costs to be included in the lien, while arguing that the city may owe Alivelim money for breaking several door frames during the evacuation.
Toledo Mayor Rod Cross was unhappy with Alivelim’s response, saying he intended to hold the company accountable for what the city had been through since taking over the building. .
“If you took possession of this building on November 21 and did absolutely nothing for the next six weeks with respect to this building, I find it very difficult to be sympathetic to your cause,” Cross told Fig. . “If I owned the building I would have gone to check it out and if I had to evict the previous owner I did and wouldn’t have waited for the city to deal with a building that belongs to you .
The problems began late last year when council noted in a meeting that the hotel had been housing long-term residents since 2019 in violation of its zoning. In 2019, the city declared a “housing emergency” and allowed the hotel owner to rent to long-term tenants.
The city had planned to work with the hotel owner to gradually return the property to short-term housing only, or convert it to a long-term housing model, such as an apartment complex or condos, but those plans have been put on hold. due to the COVID-19 pandemic creating even more uncertainty in the housing market. The hotel remained in limbo until the matter was revisited by council in November.
The council held several hearings on the property over the following months and invited Johnston or a member of hotel management to attend in hopes of establishing a dialogue and working to resolve the issues of the property. property. Johnston did not attend any of these meetings or send a representative in his place, and at one point told the News-Times he was “too busy” to meet with the board. He also repeatedly told the News-Times that he invested at least $500,000 in the property and planned to turn it into a trade school, but the board got him in trouble by scaring off investors.
According to the city, Johnston had also failed to pay the proper transient room tax for the hotel, and at one point the city threatened to shut off the water after the bill was not paid. The first issue was addressed in a municipal court hearing where Johnston was ordered to resolve it, but other issues began piling up for the property in January.
The city found the building had fallen into disrepair over the past three years after a January 14 fire inspection found numerous Oregon fire code violations and a structural problem with the side of the building. The council eventually ordered the evacuation of the hotel, giving the 30 to 40 occupants who lived there less than a week to vacate the premises by January 31.
City staff assisted with the evacuation and provided vouchers to stay in a hotel for a week for most residents, and the building has reportedly remained vacant ever since.
Fig told council at its March 3 meeting that Alivelim planned to resell the building as soon as possible and had already lined up a new buyer who planned to renovate it.