NEWARK -- As a crime-plagued motel continues straining limited police resources, city leaders are taking steps to shut it down.
While the motel's co-owner says reports of crime at the E-Z 8 Motel have been overblown, city staffers describe it as a haven for gangsters and other criminals. The Newark Planning Commission has scheduled a special meeting Wednesday to consider putting it out of business.
"The operation of this motel is injurious and detrimental to the public health," City Attorney David Benoun said Friday. "It's in the interest of our citizens that this issue be addressed."
Motel co-owner Jerry Cannon says the city's accusations are untrue and that crime at the Newark motel has dropped significantly since 2010.
"We think it's a safe place to stay," Cannon said in a phone interview. "We have been communicating with the city as recently as Friday afternoon, and we're confident we can reach an agreement before the commission's meeting.
City staffers paint a different picture of the 141-room motel at 5555 Cedar Court, next to Interstate 880 and Cedar Boulevard.
The motel has seen serious crimes, including murder, sexual assault, gang violence, arson, prostitution and vandalism, police said. It also has been a hotbed of illegal street drug use and sales, police said.
Among 10 Newark hotels and motels, E-Z 8 has the least expensive nightly rates ($47 to $51) and the third-fewest rooms, city staffers said.
It has become a "center for criminal activity" that strains police resources as officers there spend a "disproportionate amount of time and energy, compared to other hotels," said police Cmdr. Michael Carroll said in a written statement to the Planning Commission.
From 2009 to 2012, police made 760 arrests at the motel, and took 2,400 calls for police and/or emergency services from it, city leaders said.
Two of Newark police's four SWAT team calls in 2009 were made from the motel. Four months ago, the SWAT team again was called to E-Z 8, where officers arrested a man suspected of robbing a Fremont bank.
As a Newark police employee since 1991, Carroll said he is "personally familiar with the high crime levels at E-Z 8 Motel ... and the strain (it) places on the Newark Police Department."
The Newark department has assigned one officer to deal with problem motels, including E-Z 8, Carroll said.
Police say they have given the motel's leaders a list of security measures to use, including hiring two security guards to patrol at night and upgrading its signs and video surveillance system.
However, "while E-Z 8 has implemented some of the simpler, less costly security measures, such as a 10 p.m. curfew and a parking permit requirement, it has failed to fully implement some of the measures and neglected others entirely," Carroll said in a written statement to the Planning Commission.
The motel's San Diego-based co-owner says "it was a major surprise" to hear that the motel was in danger of closing because "last year, 99.99 percent of our customers" were free of crime.
"We're trying to work out a deal with the city," Cannon said. "We don't like crime at our properties and we don't like to fight with cities who host us."
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.
The Newark Planning Commission will consider revoking a permit for E-Z 8 Motel, at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Council chamber at City Hall, 37101 Newark Blvd.