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‘Our Concern Is Public Safety’

The Ukiah City Council voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to approve a resolution ordering the owner of the Palace Hotel to take significant action within the next 30 days to either stabilize the building to mitigate its risks to public safety, or obtain a permit to demolish the crumbling structure.

“We still hope preservation is an option, but first and foremost, our concern is public health and safety,” said City Manager Sage Sangiacomo. “We have a moral and ethical responsibility to protect our community with the demolition or stabilization of an unstable building.

The City Council held the special meeting on Nov. 1 after an inspection by the city’s Chief Building Official Matt Keizer in late September revealed that the historic building has “deteriorated dramatically” in recent years, particularly after last winter’s rains.

“The building at 217 N. State St. is structurally unsound, deteriorated, and constitutes a menace to public safety,” Keizer wrote in a letter to the property owner, listed as Twin Investments, LLC, with attention to Jitu Ishwar, LLC member. “You must take all necessary steps to ensure the safe and timely demolition or stabilization of this building.”

Steven Johnson, who said he was an attorney representing the property owner, addressed the council Wednesday, declaring the 30-day timeline as “unreasonable” and urging the council to continue the negotiations that city officials have been conducting with his client and a potential buyer for the hotel.

“We hope to close the sale with the buyer and have them address the issues,” Johnson said. “I don’t see how we can give you a plan in 30 days.”

“We are at a point where immediate action needs to be taken,” said Sangiacomo, and most of the residents who spoke during public comment agreed, as did Council member Susan Sher.

“This is a very sad day, and I don’t think any of us get any pleasure at the thought of demolishing the Palace Hotel, (but) something needs to be done,” said Sher, adding that she thought the 30-day timeline was “more than reasonable, and asking for more time is almost laughable, if it weren’t so tragic.”

The council then voted unanimously to approve the resolution giving the owner of the Palace Hotel 30 days to present a plan to either stabilize or demolish the building.

(Ukiah Daily Journal)

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