Troubled motel gives its side of the story

Troubled motel gives its side of the story

YAKIMA, Wash.-- A response from the owner of a local motel with a history of trouble. Yakima police say the Sunshine Motel on North First Street continues to be a problem. KIMA has followed it for years. The owner says don't blame the motel.

Rajiv Sauson has owned the Sunshine Motel dating back to a time when it was called The Tourist. Name changes haven't been enough to change the problems that attract police. Now, Rajiv is dealing with a complaint from Yakima labeling his business a chronic nuisance.
Complaints of drugs and prostitution. Police are called to the Sunshine at least once a day. The owner says he can't watch what people do inside the rooms they rent.

"We can't figure out who is drug dealer or who is a prostitute," Sauson said. "Police know. They are telling us, 'Oh, you have lot of drug dealing,' and, okay, you know, why don't you arrest them?"

Rajiv says he's trying to keep things under control. The ID of everyone who rents a room is copied. He keeps a list of the troublemakers and kicks out tenants who have too many visitors. There are 26 cameras that help him monitor the property. Rajiv can even watch from his cell phone.
"Do you think you are doing everything you possibly can to keep your motel safe?" KIMA asked.
"From my best knowledge I am doing everything," Sauson responded. "But, we want to know what city wants us to do."

He will find out this month. Code enforcement officers and police will meet with Rajiv about what he can do to keep the business safe and open. If things don't get better, the business could be shut down under the chronic nuisance ordinance.
So, I wanted to see the place for myself. Rajiv showed me one nice room, but I needed to see other available rooms to make sure he didn't clean just one room for my camera. He opened every available room on that floor.

They all looked clean to me. But, police say the problem is what's happening in the rooms that are rented - a problem Rajiv and the city will try to work out together.

The owner's already met once with Yakima officials and YPD last month. They'll meet again to decide on the changes that are needed. We will follow up.