The City Attorney’s Office reports the following.
A former hotel on International Boulevard that was a longstanding center of prostitution activity in Oakland has been sold to a new owner who intends to develop office and retail space on the property.
Evidence in a lawsuit filed by the Oakland City Attorney showed that the National Lodge at 1711 International Boulevard operated for years as a hub of prostitution, including child prostitution. The Alameda County Superior Court ordered the hotel to close last year, and in May 2013 the court granted the City Attorney’s petition to force a sale of the property.
“This is an excellent outcome for a property that was a magnet for prostitution when it operated as a hotel,” City Attorney Barbara Parker said. “The National Lodge’s business model relied on and profited from a criminal industry in which women and children are routinely, horrifically abused. The closure and sale of this hotel is one victory in our ongoing fight to stop this industry of abuse, and helps to protect the quality of life for residents and businesses in the neighborhood.”
Escrow closed at the end of July. The new owners, Enoch Shin and Bruce Van Vuong, will not reopen a hotel on the property.
“Our neighborhood is so pleased with this outcome,” said Andy Nelsen, Deputy Director of the East Bay Asian Youth Center. “We now have a chance to convert this place of shame and suffering into an asset and place of opportunity for neighborhood entrepreneurs. It is an example of what can be done when City officials and the community act as true partners.”
In 2012, with help from the Oakland Police Department, community groups and residents, the Neighborhood Law Corps unit in the City Attorney’s Office went to trial to shut down two hotels that were major sources of neighborhood complaints about prostitution and crime. Superior Court Judge Brenda Harbin-Forte ordered the National Lodge and the Economy Inn to remain closed for a period of one year – the maximum penalty allowed by state law.
The Economy Inn has reopened under the control of a receiver and continuing jurisdiction of the court. The court’s order authorizing the reopening imposes new security measures to prevent prostitution and prohibits the owners from operating the hotel. The City Attorney has the right to immediately ask the court to shut down the hotel if any further incidents of prostitution occur, without having to file another lawsuit or going through a new trial.
Neighbors are encouraged to report any prostitution activity to the Oakland Police Department at (510) 777-3333. However, if you think that the prostitution activity involves a minor, call 911.