The conditions at the Knights Inn on West Freeway in Fort Worth go beyond bed bugs. Way beyond.
Anil Patidar’s motel is one of three in the city designated as high risk and requiring quarterly inspections.
A 12-year-old girl lived there intermittently with her mother, grandmother, older sister and sister’s baby before she was kidnapped and and forced into prostitution. As the Star-Telegram’s Jeff Caplan has reported, the now 14-year-old and her son are in the process of being adopted.
We have no idea how many others who have landed at the Knights Inn are subject to adverse conditions.
Patidar was at City Hall for a hearing last week. A “final chance,” Fort Worth officials said, before further intervention that could shut down the repeated violator.
The Knights Inn is the site of rampant criminal activity in a part of town — the Las Vegas Trail neighborhood — that needs as much support from the city and its residents as any other.
Many have begun to fight for a better experience for those in the Las Vegas Trail who want safe routes to school, economic opportunity and basic services. Councilman Brian Byrd’s Revitalization Project, which is led by TD Smyers of the United Way and includes nonprofits, law enforcement, school teachers, churches and others, seeks to identify problems and solve them.
And then there is the Knights Inn owner, who continues to benefit from a destitute population. He does little — if anything — to ensure a bare minimum of sanitary conditions for his guests. He makes little to no effort to sweep criminal behavior from his rooms. So long as they are filled, the rest does not matter.
During the compliance meeting, officials laid out goals. If they are not met, the city will file a nuisance abatement lawsuit, and the motel could be shut down for a year.
Police statistics show 68 “nuisance offenses” at the property during a two-year period, including assault and narcotics violations, from July 14, 2015, to Sept. 30, 2017.
With its actions the city is sending a clear message that it is working to root out the bad actors. That in and of itself sends the right signal.
We encourage pursuing additional action as appropriate, at the Knights Inn and the dozens of low-income apartment complexes that fan out along the Trail.
And we ask our local state representatives — like Senator Konni Burton, Rep. Matt Krause and Rep. Ramon Romero Jr. — to look hard at code compliance ahead of the 2019 session. That the Knights Inn is still allowed to remain open despite the volume of repeated violations signals we can improve current law.
A clean and safe roof above our heads is one of our most basic needs. The Knights Inn is far from it.