Complaints against maternity hotels in Los Angeles County have surged since December, and officials say that many have come from the San Gabriel Valley, the Los Angeles Times reports. County residents filed 60 complaints last month alone compared to 15 from the previous five years.
Maternity tourism, a business often involving illegal hotels where expectant mothers from other countries stay to give birth, has been an issue in the San Gabriel Valley, where facilities cater to Chinese and Taiwanese mothers. A highly publicized case in Chino Hills last December involved a site being used as a 17-bedroom boarding house, and officials told The Times that many of the complaints following that case came from Rowland Heights and Hacienda Heights.
L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe, who represents parts of the eastern San Gabriel Valley, says a county ordinance specific to maternity hotels is necessary. "They're a moneymaking machine. They're totally unsafe," Knabe told The Times. "It's so obvious that they jeopardize not only the health of the baby, but the mother as well."
County officials released a report outlining a plan to set up enforcement and continue investigations involving different county agencies, including the Health, Fire, Public Works, and Child and Family Services departments. The Jan. 14 report describes the nondescript facilities and the often difficult tasks of finding and shutting them down. Occupants will usually not come to the door or claim not to speak English. Hotels don't display signs and the exteriors, mostly well maintained, often blend in with the neighborhood.
Read the full article from the Los Angeles Times.