Is Santa Cruz City Council on the right track with new proposed ID law?

According to in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, police coping with an influx of criminals selling drugs and sex in motel rooms have turned to city leaders for help.

The City Council on Tuesday will consider a law requiring hotel and motel operators to verify the identity of guests, to help police track down those committing crimes in the city.

Many of the problematic guests hail from nearby cities such as San Francisco, Oakland and Salinas.

Current law requires guests list their name and address when registering but does not require official ID like a driver’s license. It also requires innkeepers to notify police of any guests younger than 16 who are not accompanied by an adult.

The law did not prevent a recent homicide in a Beach Hill motel room.

Robbie Reynolds, 18, was stabbed by another teen in a room at a hotel on Second Street in October 2008. The room was rented by a 14-year-old girl using a fake ID. Paradise Inn staff later said they believed she was an adult.

The proposed ordinance would also mandate that hotel and motel operators show the registration information to police.

With basic identification, officers can check a guest’s criminal history and gain an idea of what they are dealing with if they have to respond to a complaint at a hotel, instead of walking in “blind”.

Mayor Mike Rotkin said he believes the ordinance is reasonable.

Merry Crowen of the Santa Cruz County Hospitality and Lodging Association agreed, saying the language on acceptable forms of identification is broad enough so that it should not be a problem for hotel operators.

“If someone doesn’t want to provide ID, perhaps there’s a reason, and perhaps they are not someone we want staying there,” Crowen said. “It’s best for everyone and will allow the police department to enforce the requirement for some of the motels which are perhaps not being conscientious about identifying guests.”

The ordinance would require hotel clerks to record which identification was provided. Failing to do so would constitute an infraction. It would also be an infraction to use false identification to rent a room or try to rent a room.

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