Bill would ban hourly-rate motels across Nashville

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s a legal business that will attract illegal activity: hotels and motels that rent rooms by the hour.

Now, a Metro councilman wants to ban hourly-rate hotels across Davidson County.

“We kind of know what goes on at hourly-rate hotels and motels and what the issues are” said Councilman Jeff Syracuse, who represents District 15 in Donelson. “If you look at the crime statistics, they’re higher there than other motel and hotels throughout the county.”

Jeff Syracuse (Photo: WKRN)

Syracuse says he doesn’t want to shut down the hotels, but he wants them to rent rooms for 10 hours or more.

“In this day and age in Nashville, I think it does give them an opportunity to re-brand and cater to families that want a more cost-efficient place to stay,” Syracuse says.

He says hourly-rate motels also have a negative impact on a neighborhood’s economy because they often attract seedy, if not dangerous, elements.

“It’s just a breeding ground for bad behavior,” Syracuse said. “Prostitution, illicit drugs, even potentially human trafficking.”

(Photo: WKRN)

The TBI has said that Nashville is a hotbed for human trafficking, with the average age of a human trafficking victim being 13.

Davidson County Assistant District Attorney Tammy Meade called Syracuse’s bill a good start in the fight against human trafficking.

“It happens in every zip code in this city and in every level of hotel in this city,” Meade told News 2. “The bill won’t eradicate human trafficking but it will be an excellent start at maybe curbing some of those issues we have.”

Meade is hopeful that ending hourly-rate hotel rooms will also curb traditional street prostitution and drug use.

“It happens more at hourly-rate hotels,” said Meade. “They’ll buy the drugs there, they’ll check into the hotel to use the drugs and by eradicating that type of establishment it may allow the city to address those issues and clean the area up a little bit.”

Memphis already has a similar law in place. Metro-Nashville council will take up the issue at their next meeting on June 20.