City To Close Toledo Hotel Due To Safety Concerns
The Toledo city council held a public hearing regarding the condition of the Toledo Hotel on Main Street. Toledo Fire Chief Robison showed video and photos of the inspection of the hotel held on January 14th with the cities code enforcement officer, a representative of the Oregon State Fire Marshalls Office and the county building official. They found that there ere several violations of the fire code. This included non-functioning fire alarms, fire exit doors being blocked by debris, faulty wiring and exposed wires leading to electrical panels.
Areas that appeared to be under construction with no electrical or construction permits. Walls were bowing and holes cut in the fire resistant sheet rock between the floors. Outside cracks can be seen between the windows and there are wood shake shingles that are not up to code. In the lobby area they found that people were living there in an unapproved makeshift room. There were storage rooms filled with combustible material. One room had a hole in the ceiling where moisture from the roof leaking.
Chief Robison and state fire Marshal expressed concern for residents and fire fighters safety if a fire should break out. He explained that the smoke alarms go off frequently and now no one pays attention if it goes off, since there are several false alarms. He pointed out how dangerous this would be if there were an actual fire. He also stated that there would be danger to the firefighters as there is so much debris and materials in the way of getting inside and navigating to the fire to put it out. They gave examples of other hotel fires where lives were lost, including first responders due to similar situations.
The manager of the hotel stated he knew about the dangerous condition of the hotel and didn't get any cooperation from the owner. Residents testified that they were concerned for their lives based on the disrepair. The owner of the hotel Dustin Johnston did not appear at the hearing. However attorney William Fig made a statement that he represents Alive Lim Holdings LLC, the company that sold the hotel to Mr. Johnston's company Paw Prints in 2018 and Paw Prints defaulted on the sale in 2019. They are in the process of taking the hotel back for resale. He added they are willing to work with the city to close the hotel. Mayor Rod Cross pointed out that the real victims here are the residents of the hotel who have been paying rent and having to live in such poor living conditions.
After discussion the city passed an ordinance to close the hotel as of 8am on Monday January 31, continuing the 24-hour fire watch until that time. The hotel will remain closed until all violations have been addressed and fixed and the city receives an engineers report that the hotel is safe to open. It is estimated there are between 22-36 people who reside at the hotel. City manager Judy Richter has been working with local and state officials to try to offer housing or shelter assistance for those loosing their homes. The city agreed to levy fines against Paw Prints owner Dustin Johnston for the violations and reimbursement for the cost of the 24-hour fire watch.