The Harris County Attorney’s Office has filed a lawsuit against the Motel 6 at 19606 Cypresswood Court—located near Cypresswood Drive and I-45—labeling the property a nuisance building and claiming it harbors habitual crime.
The lawsuit, filed Oct. 18, states the motel’s owner—who could not be reached for comment—has failed to make reasonable efforts to reduce the number of prostitution and drug crimes that allegedly take place at the motel.
The lawsuit also states, between Oct. 17, 2016 and Oct. 17, 2017, law enforcement—including Harris County Precinct 4 constable’s office and Harris County sheriff’s office—received more than 320 calls for service at the motel.
This is not an isolated problem in Spring and Klein. Nuisance buildings, which are properties where an excessive amount of crime takes place, are prevalent throughout the area, Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said.
Assistant County Attorney Julie Countiss said HCAO has filed 105 nuisance lawsuits throughout the county since 2015, including the lawsuit it filed against Champions Lodge on FM 1960 in September 2016.
“We are seeing that it is not just isolated to Motel 6; it is the entire area and all along FM 1960,” Herman said.
Herman said his office brought the activity at the Motel 6 to HCAO’s attention after officers who were working undercover near the motel and along FM 1960 made 44 arrests in a prostitution sting in October.
Countiss said this is typically how nuisance property lawsuits are brought to the county’s attention. After they are filed, the way these lawsuits play out depends on the business owner’s level of cooperation, she said.
“If they want to work with us to fix their problems, then we do that, but if we can’t come to an agreement, then the next step is to ask the court to order the defendant to take certain steps to improve the property,” Countiss said.
The lawsuit outlines ways the property owner could increase the safety of the motel. These suggestions include hiring off-duty police officers to monitor the property, prohibiting cash-only customers and requiring all customers to present a valid government-issued ID during check-in.
Countiss said when nuisance property lawsuits go to trial—which is not often—HCAO’s goal is to convince the judge to shut down the business for a certain period of time.
“We only get to that phase if a defendant is completely uncooperative and doesn’t think they should have to take any steps to fix the crime,” Countiss said.
A new Precinct 4 constable substation—opening on Holzwarth Road, less than one mile from the Motel 6—could increase police visibility and reduce response time in the area surrounding the property, Herman said. The motel is located across I-45 from Spring High School and near a shopping center that houses a Target and Best Buy.
Construction for the station—which will house 70-80 deputies—will begin after the building’s permits are approved and will open three or four months later.