'I don't want to see confrontation': City pushes crumbling motel's owner to clean up

Kevin Keen

Photo: Video by kgun9.com

'I don't want to see confrontation': City pushes crumbling motel's owner to clean up

CREATED Jul. 8, 2013
SOUTH TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - It's broken down, boarded up and an all around blight. And after KGUN9’s investigation into the vacant Spanish Trail Motel, the city pledged to get it cleaned up. But now, months later, little looks different from the interstate. What’s the deal?
 
This spring KGUN9 took to the sky in helicopter for a better view of the Spanish Trail Motel in South Tucson off I-10. The camera captured caved in roofs, piles of junk and an Olympic-sized pool with stagnant water. From the street, you could see broken and boarded up windows.
 
The city of South Tucson manager at the time admitted the property had been breaking local ordinances for some time yet the city did nothing.
 
Flash forward to today, when things pretty much look the same on the property on East Benson Highway.
 
What is new around here is who's in charge of the city of South Tucson. In the past few months, there’s a new mayor, city manager and three city council members.
 
Are we starting from square one here? Or, is cleaning up this place still a priority?
 
It still is, said the new city manager, Luis Gonzales.
 
But Gonzales is changing tactics.
 
“I want to see cooperation,” he said. “I don't want to see confrontation.”
 
Instead of sending a letter, Gonzales met the owner, Dennis Luttrell, face to face.
 
“Mr. Luttrell has been very cooperative,” Gonzales said. “He has been very willing to work with the city to address those issues.”
 
Gonzales said Luttrell is cleaning things up -- something that appeared to start after KGUN9 made repeated attempts to talk to Luttrell earlier this year.
 
City staff originally told KGUN9 the city would send notices of violation to Luttrell, forcing him to comply with local ordinances against such things as windows that are boarded up indefinitely. KGUN9 requested that correspondence but never received it after weeks of waiting.
 
Gonzales -- one month on the job now -- explained he was unaware any such correspondence exist.
 
“When I learned about this particular issue, I held a staff meeting and I asked the question: When was the last time anyone from staff had any discussion with the property owner? The answer was: Maybe ten years ago.”
 
Now, he said, “I can assure your viewers that we're going to get that resolved.”
 
How about the new city council? Will they see this through? The topic wasn't on the agenda, but KGUN9 reporter Kevin Keen showed up at Monday’s meeting to ask.
 
“I thought this might be an efficient way to just put out a request,” Keen told the council. “If anyone is interested in sitting down” to be part of an interview to address citizens’ concerns, the invitation is there.
  
Gonzales said he will meet with Luttrell in the coming weeks to make a plan of action, but he didn’t have a timeframe on when things might be cleaned up.

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