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Published: Friday, 6/11/2004

Low rent, high risk

THE hundreds of calls for police and emergency service the last few years at the Budget Inn on Reynolds Road make it clear this is a problem site. But the City should think twice about trying to close the establishment.

A fatal stabbing there is a serious matter, as all murders are, but that is not by itself reason to close a business.

As a low-rent hostelry, the Budget Inn may attract certain people, in addition to the ordinary, who are sometimes rowdy and sometimes criminal. That doesn't make a case for closure. Motels and hotels don't usually ask the intent of clients, be it for an assignation or a respite from a trip. It's not their business.

Owner Matuir Rahman says he has barred guests with a history of drugs and prostitution and tossed out "miscreants." But he is right in saying that if people are 21 and have a valid ID and a credit card they can't be refused a room. The idea of punishing him for that is inappropriate.

Toledo needs cheap housing for travelers, and certainly those businesses must comply with health and safety standards. It doesn't help that the motel is located in the middle of one of Toledo's busiest commercial areas.

Last August, in letters to both owner Matuir Rahman's attorney, Paul Frankel, and Mayor Jack Ford, City Councilman Rob Ludeman said the community wanted improvement in both "the appearance of the facility and the quality of the patron."

The latter, by law as Mr. Ludeman should know, is beyond a public accommodation's capacity. Nor can an owner control police trips to serve warrants or arrest a person accused of a crime done elsewhere.

In reply, Mr. Frankel, who has represented Mr. Rahman in October, 2002, detailed his client's efforts to meet city standards.

Officials have Mr. Rahman in a tough spot. He wants to keep his business going and must show good faith efforts to work with the City to make that possible. That should probably include hiring security personnel to keep the premises, and its patrons, safe.

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