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HUGE victory for hotel operators in the City of LA, another loss for the City Attorney

city of la v patelUnderstanding your city’s respective municipal code is imperative, especially if you are a business owner.  Most cities have a code that directly affects how hotel/motel owners keep records on their guests.  Some codes are written that give law enforcement the right to inspect said records, to know who is in the hotel/motel, at any given time. In the case of the City of Los Angeles v. Patel, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4, that the municipal code, allowing warrantless searches, of hotel/motel guest registries, violates the 4th Amendment.

Justice Sotomayer affirmed:

Los Angeles Municipal Code § 41.49, which requires hotel operators to record and keep specific information about their guests on the premises for a ninety-day period and to make those records available to “any officer of the Los Angeles Police Department for inspection” on demand, is facially unconstitutional because it fails to provide the operators with an opportunity for pre-compliance review.

Will this case set precedent for other cities throughout the state of California?

In March, the County of Los Angeles moved to tighten regulation of motels who specifically receive money from the County for the destitute population.  Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas introduced the motion as a way to curb sex trafficking and the illegal “selling” of minors.

Related article: L.A. County acts to curb child sex trafficking in some motels

County officials were asked to draft agreements where the participating motels would agree to receive training on how to identify sex trafficking activities and also agree to random checks of guests by Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputies.

City of Compton mayor Aja Brown is also a strong advocate of curbing sex trafficking in her city.

Will this recent ruling prevent the mandate of random registry checks in LA County too?



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