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Gainesville wants to put these limits, regulations on extended stay and other hotels
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From left, Adolfo Cuartas, his wife Olga and daughter Diana eat inside their hotel room on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, at Budgetel Inn & Suites, where they have lived for the past year in Gainesville. - photo by David Barnes

Proposed regulations in Gainesville would limit how long people can stay at hotels in the city and require hotels to keep detailed records of their guests and hand those over to the city upon request.

The rules have extra restrictions for extended stay lodging, which the city defines as hotels that provide lodging for 15 to 30 days. If a hotel has cooking appliances or a kitchen in more than 5% of its rooms, it would be designated as extended stay.

The public can comment on the rules at the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board meeting Tuesday. The Gainesville City Council will have the final vote Dec. 17.

Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12

Where: Public Safety Complex, 701 Queen City Parkway, Gainesville

Under the proposal, patrons of hotels not designated as extended stay can only stay 15 consecutive days and cannot stay in the same room for more than 30 days in a 180-day period. 

At extended stay hotels, patrons can stay in the room for up to 30 days at a time, but no more than 60 days in a 180-day period. 

There must be at least two weeks between each stay for both types of hotels.

The regulations also require all hotels to get identification from all patrons before renting out a room. That identification would need to be government-issued, such as a driver’s license, military identification card, state identification card or passport. Hotels would also have to record the full name, phone number and home address of every patron and keep that information on file for 180 days. 

Hotels must keep records of those paying for the rooms as well as guests who are with them and be able to provide that information upon the city’s request.

The proposed rules give the city the authority to check up on whether hotels are following regulations — “Inspections of rooms and business records of lodging services and extended stay lodging services may be performed by sworn officers of the City Police Department or the City Code Enforcement and their designated employees for the purpose of verifying compliance with the requirements of this section and state law,” the regulations state.

Rusty Ligon, Gainesville’s community and economic development director, said the city does not have any regulations for hotels, other than some restrictions on where they can be located. 

City Manager Bryan Lackey said the regulations can help guide some hotels as they transition to offering more extended stay options.

“There’s a definite difference between a hotel that comes in and has your typical bed, bathroom, those types of facilities, and one that comes in that has a bed and kitchen facilities, which is meant to be a longer stay,” Lackey said. “... Some of the older hotels around are trying to do conversions from regular lodging services to extended stay, and that’s posing some challenges, so we just need to make sure we have some codes in place.”

If a hotel is not set up for cooking in the rooms, it may not have the proper ventilation or fire suppression equipment, Lackey said.

“There are really a lot of public safety concerns,” he said.

Ligon said hotels are not designed to be permanent living spaces.

“If you start getting over 30 days, then that’s much more of essentially a permanent residential situation, and an extended stay hotel or just a regular hotel is not set up like an apartment complex or a townhouse development,” Ligon said.

Hotel guests or patrons would not be held legally responsible for staying in a room too long — the violation would be the responsibility of the business, Lackey said.

Extended stay hotels often serve as a place to stay for individuals or families dealing with homelessness or seeking transitional housing. 

“We have no thoughts or plans whatsoever to displace anybody that is living in one of these. … We want to actually improve that situation, bring it up to where it is safe and habitable,” Ligon said. 

Ligon said nonprofits are available in the city to help those who are homeless.

Some organizations include the United Way, Family Promise of Hall County, My Sister’s Place, Good News at Noon, The Salvation Army and The Way on Bradford Street.

New homeless shelters are banned in the city’s midtown area, where many of these services are currently concentrated. The city passed those regulations last year. Existing shelters are allowed to stay.

These proposed regulations come a year after Gainesville passed a ban on “urban camping,” or living and sleeping in public spaces like parks or the side of the road. 

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