WOBURN - A proposed city ordinance that would require all hotel and innkeepers in the city to maintain an accurate and up-to-date record of guests staying on their premises enjoys the uniform support of Woburn’s City Council.
During the aldermen’s latest gathering in City Hall, City Council President Edward Tedesco explained that he had recently agreed to sponsor the legislation at the request of local authorities, who say that a handful of trouble hotels in the city are not documenting who is coming in and out of their properties.
Intending to act on the ordinance at their next meeting, when a required second reading of the proposal is planned, the council placed the laid the matter on the table in an unanimous vote.
Local police and the city’s Licensing Board have complained that those businesses, which apparently accept cash payments for guest stays with no questions asked, argue that failure to maintain records makes it difficult for first responders to investigate assaults, robberies, prostitution allegations, and other incidents.
Word that local hotels are refusing to maintain accurate guest registers has infuriated city officials for some time now, and supporters of the ordinance like Ward 2 Alderman Richard Gately and Ward 5’s Darlene-Mercer-Bruen described the regulations as long overdue.
“These innkeepers who say give me cash and I don’t need your license or registration, that’s gotta go,” said Gately. “That [kind of look-the-other-way attitude] went out with Tommy Guns in the 50s.”
“You can see all the police and fire department runs [heading to these trouble properties],” the South End official continued. “But what you don’t seems the people getting the crap beaten out of them in these buildings, because they’re running out and hiding in their cars while they’re still bleeding.”
Under the legislation, which was crafted by City Solicitor Ellen Callahan Doucette with input from local police, will be required to maintain a guest register with the following customer information:
• Their full name and home address;
• A description of all guest vehicles and a record of their license plate number;
• Details from a valid state or federal identification card;
• and information about which rooms guests are staying in and the number of people who accompanied them.
The new rules will also require all lodging facilities to keep a manager on-duty at all times who can cooperate with police, requires guest registrars to be maintained for at least a year before any records are destroyed, and orders hotel managers to furnish information from the register to police upon request.
Innkeepers found to be violating the city ordinance will be subject to a $300 per day fine for each offense. Woburn’s police chief or his/her designee will be authorized to enforce the ordinance.
Mercer-Bruen, whose district includes several hotels and extended stay facilities, lauded Tedesco for sponsoring the legislation. According to the Ward 5 alderman, though most of the city’s innkeepers already meet the standards, some busineses in her district like the Red Roof Inn off of Commerce Way have been identified as problem properties for some time now.
“Thank-you for bringing this forward. WE have at least one hotel in this city that doesn’t do a good job of managing who comes and goes. We’ve had all sorts of problems there,” said Mercer-Bruen.
“Any hotel with any character and class [keeps a record of its guests]. You don’t just take cash from people without asking who they are. It’s just ridiculous,” she later said.