Extended stay service wears out welcome in East Ridge
EAST RIDGE, HAMILTON COUNTY (WRCB) -- With so many people living paycheck-to-paycheck, extended stay motels have become a place for families to call home.
East Ridge city leaders say it's costing them thousands of dollars each year and they're looking to lock the doors on motel chain.
Officials say the conversion hurts revenue and presents a bad image.
The city stands to lose money in an already tight economy and right now there is nothing to stop hotels from converting.
Now the city manager is looking to a regional committee for answers.
Hotels and motels line Ringgold Road, attracting travelers passing by on I-75.
City Manager Tim Gobble says two of them let people stay for more than a month, which he say can hurt the city's bottom line when these places essentially become apartments.
"Something we want to look at is increased revenue and when we lose that to extended stays," Gobble says. "We are concerned too about losing money."
The city collects roughly $130,000 annually from the hotel/motel tax.
Gobble says that number is dropping because extended stay residents don't have to pay it.
In a 2006 parody, the "East Ridge Song" poked fun at the number of hotels and cash advanced buildings around the city.
Gobble says for years the city has dealt with image issues and now is the time to turn that around.
"I think we need to make it clear the people staying in extended stay hotels are not the criminals we are looking for," Gobble says. "The vast majority are good people."
Superior Creek Lodge was the city's first extended stay.
Police have investigated it for safety issues and drug activity.
Managers say they've added a zero tolerance policy, which has drastically reduced the problems.
"They have taken steps to make sure the criminal element there doesn't prey on the innocent people there," says Gobble.
Gobble says the only way to put the clamps on extended stay motels is through local legislation, but right now the city doesn't have enough votes.
The measure to stop motels from converting failed at a previous city council meeting by only one vote.
However, the city did pass a measure to take the concerns to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission (RPA) for advice.
Once the RPA reviews the matter, the next steps will consist of research to determine which policy will work best for East Ridge.
As of right now, there are no measures in place to stop a hotel or motel from offering extended stay services.