At the Nov. 5th meeting, the Sapulpa City Council dealt with a difficult subject regarding the Administrative Hearing Officer’s decision on April 30, 2018, to declare the OK Motel at 508 West Dewey (Hwy. 66) a “Dilapidated Structure and Public Nuisance,” and to approve demolition of the buildings on the property.
Mike Stephens, Code Enforcement Officer, explained the history of the property which began with citations in 2014 for debris. Over time, there have been other citations for damaged property and unsafe living conditions, and a history of police involvement.
Stephens said there hadn’t been water service to the motel since 2017 but the owner still lives in the office. The list of damages includes unsafe floors, damaged siding, exposed wiring, and non-working plumbing.
Stephens said the Building Inspector, the City Manager, and he recommended that the buildings be “demolished at the earliest possible date.” Fire Chief David Taylor, who is also the Fire Marshall, explained that there were multiple violations in March of 2018, including no heat, no smoke detectors, hanging power lines, no sewer and that the property was “uninhabitable.” There had been 500 police calls to that address over the past 15 years. Mr. Khurshid has owned the property for 12 years, and the property was run-down and crime-ridden, even then.
During this evaluation to the Council, the motel owner, Mohammed Khurshid, (a self-described Bangladeshi) leaned on the podium and cocked his head to hear the proceedings better. Sometimes, Khurshid spoke perfectly lucid and cogent remarks, like “Leaking, leaking, leaking, leaking,” to explain why he had no money to repair his holdings. Once he said, “Never received copy,” referring to documents concerning a Field Hearing. At the same time, the council was in possession of a perfectly written letter used to appeal a decision. After repeatedly asking him how the letter was written, Khurshid finally answered, “lawyer.” David Widdoes, City Attorney, explained that Khurshid wanted to stay in his Office/home and fix up one unit at a time, to be able to rent it out to continue living there and afford to fix up the next unit.
Councilor Carla Stinnett was alarmed. She could not understand anything Khurshid said and was concerned that he couldn’t understand what was happening to him, that he was “losing his property.” She recommended an interpreter for the proceedings going forward, and for him to get legal counsel that he could understand.
City Attorney Widdoes said the owner “is not losing his property; just bring into compliance” the buildings on the property (including his personal residence.)”
Councilor Anderson agreed, saying, “We don’t know exactly what he’s saying. Be sure not to railroad this man.”
Councilor Henderson disagreed. He felt that the motel owner had plenty of opportunities to say he didn’t understand, speaking with many city leaders as he had over the years.
Joan Riley, City Manager, said that the property would have more value with nothing on it. “There are insurmountable damages.”
When the word “option” was spoken, Mr. Khurshid said, “Option? Option? What is ‘option’?”
Widdoes explained there is no mortgage on the property and that Khurshid adamantly refused to borrow money. Widdoes also called Khurshid’s inability to understand english a “convenient lapse,” as the conversation has carried on for quite some time, and Khurshid has not had in inability to understand previously, despite his hearing loss.
Nikki White (Urban Development Director) added that the property owner knew he was supposed to be present for the meeting and came. She assured the council that, after many interactions with him, Mr. Khurshid understood what was happening.
Mike Stephens came to the front of the room, explaining that he had a native Bangladeshi on the phone and offered to let him interpret for Mr. Khurshid. Khurshid said, in way of explaining why he couldn’t get money to fix the motel and in answer to how the motel became dilapidated in the first place, he answered: “People (renters) break it. Roof is broken. Everywhere is broken.”
What was his financial plan? “Somebody help me.”
Councilor Bledsoe spoke up: “Maintenance costs money. You have to pay the money,” he said.
Widdoes said he wanted to finish the process at the administrative level, to give due process to the property owner in court, and that “this has been going on for months.” Then, Mr. Khurshid would be able to appeal with an attorney in court.
At this point, Mayor Reg Green said he’d heard enough, the vote was taken, and it passed with “yes” votes from Councilors Naifeh, Henderson, Anderson, Gunn and Mayor Green or 5 out of 9 voting council members.
Widdoes told Sapulpa Times that the case would be taken to District Court, and that we should see an answer in 60-90 days.