The Calico Cat Motel is known as a den of drugs and prostitution.
Tacoma police have been called there for those and other crimes 215 times this year.
Just this week, one resident was shot when he allegedly pulled a gun on the owner’s son, and a wanted felon was arrested with drugs and multiple guns in his room.
On Friday, city code enforcement officers ensured the motel at 8821 Pacific Ave. was boarded up after the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department declared it unfit for habitation.
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Tests showed that 20 of the motel’s 24 rooms, and some common areas, were contaminated by methamphetamine.
“It was boarded up due to safety and health concerns,” police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said.
The process started in September, after the Health Department took samples from six rooms and tested them for contamination. After they came back positive, inspectors told the owner to hire a certified contractor to test the remainder of the property.
Ninety percent of the hotel property tested above allowable state levels for meth.
Community Services officers emptied out the building, the power was turned off and the Calico Cat’s business license was suspended. A hearing is set for Tuesday for the business owners to appeal the suspension of their license.
“They definitely have an opportunity to clean things up,” said Lisa Wojtanowicz, division manager of neighborhood and community services.
Code enforcement issued a sub-standard notice to the Calico Cat in June, asking them to fix some problems related to the property’s condition. Those issues were not related to drugs.
Two Community Corrections officers with the state Department of Corrections were watching the operation Friday. They were there to look for, and take into custody, any felons with warrants.
“Our job is to be out here, hopefully rounding them up,” said officer Chris Muhs.
It’s a proactive move, they said, at locations like the Calico Cat where felons are known to congregate.
The officers had information that at least one felon, and perhaps others, were at the motel. But, when they arrived, all residents were gone.
Nearby, a man and woman identified as the owners were speaking with a building inspector. They refused comment.
Calvin Kennon and Brandon Ault of Positive Interactions were looking for residents of the motel. Their city-funded agency provides shelter, clothing and contacts with other resources.
“Anything we can do to help,” Kennon said. “We go business to business, encampment to encampment to see if we can hook people up with services.”
Like the corrections officers, the pair found no takers.
A couple walking on Pacific Avenue, who said they lived near the motel, cheered on the officers and others gathered outside the motel.
The Calico Cat, which offers daily and weekly rates, has a reputation for being a blemish on the neighborhood.
Its website pictures a lovely beach scene and assures potential clients it “is the perfect place for your stay.”
Officials and residents say it is anything but.
Police are regularly called to the motel for domestic violence disputes, prostitution, drugs and suspicious people.
On Wednesday, police responded there after a 32-year-old man was shot in the arm.
He allegedly was beating his girlfriend, who went to the front office to seek help. The owner’s 27-year-old son went to intervene and ended up shooting the man after he pulled a gun, Cool said.
Shortly after the shooting, police served a search warrant on one of the rooms and arrested a wanted felon.
Officers found two sawed-off shotguns, a sawed-off rifle, a handgun, cross bow and arrows, counterfeiting equipment and evidence of heroin and cocaine in the room the man had been staying in for two months.