We've all heard the cliché: Don't judge a book by its cover. But, it's something Yakima worries that tourists do whenever they come here. Why rent a room on North 1st Street where the hotels are unattractive? Places surrounded by empty storefronts along with rumors of drugs and prostitution.
Guest Brenda Stewart says it's gotten better at the Red Apple.
"They're watching who they rent to now," said Stewart.
Still in 2012. police showed up to the Red Apple nearly 150 times.
"That's second highest in the city," said Yakima Police Officer Rich Fowler. "We gotta take that down."
The owners tell me they're on board.
"It must look nice and beautiful so it has a good effect on tourists," said part-owner Kevin Sanghe.
Yakima tells us motel inspections are just the first phase of a long-term effort. The city is rewriting its rules when it comes to signage and using $3 million in grant money to fix the streets and sidewalks.
"Yakima is not going to tolerate what has happened here in the past," said Code Enforcement Manager, Joe Caruso. "It's a new day coming."
But when? Yakima tells me you won't see a different look overnight. We're told the physical changes will begin next year, but your safety is improving every day.
Yakima wants to add emphasis police patrols to this area. City leaders want to make North First Street a place people feel comfortable walking.