Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe joined the chorus of voices speaking out against the increasing number of residential homes being used as “maternity hotels.”
According to a news release issued by his office, Knabe plans to call for more rigorous zoning restrictions particularly in the San Gabriel Valley at this morning’s Board of Supervisors meeting. The goal is to curb the number of these “postpartum recovery homes.”
The homes charge mothers from foreign countries, often from China, to enter the country to give birth in these makeshift hotels so that their children can be born U.S. citizens.
“Across the United States, the recent trend in ‘birthing tourism’ has led to money- making schemes that put the health and safety of mothers and babies in jeopardy,” Supervisor Knabe said through a statement in the news release. “We have had an increase in complaints from neighboring residents, concerned about the well-being of those in these homes, as well as concern about the quality-of-life in residential neighborhoods when these facilities are allowed to operate.”
Knabe’s, who represents Diamond Bar and Walnut, said he would ask for the board’s support in directing county counsel to draft a proposed ordinance to regulate the boarding houses. His proposal will also call for the CEO to lead a multi-agency inspection teams and includes a request for funding to bring in additional staffers that speak Mandarin/Cantonese translators.
His request follows a status report provided to the board by the county staff on January 14.
“These maternity hotels have grown beyond the scope of a zoning issue,” Knabe wrote. “The conditions inside some of these houses are putting the lives of the mothers and babies at risk and we must do what we can to protect them and stop this illegal activity.”
Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, is also crafting legislation that would establish new penalties for those who exploit a loophole in immigration laws or violate state and local laws while operating maternity hotels, the Daily Bullertin newspaper reported in December.
Birthing homes have become a major issue for several east Los Angeles County/San Gabriel Valley cities. Walnut recently shut down one home near Meadow Pass and Pierre roads, city officials said. Community Development Director Tom Weiner said it took the city about 60 days.
A resident who noticed increased foot traffic at the home tipped off city officials.
“Our investigation found it was used for one of these homes similar to Chino Hills,” Weiner told Patch in December. “We were aggressive in taking care of the problem and successful at having them cease operation.”
In early December staffers at Chino Hills discovered birthing homes and had worked to shut them down, reported the Daily Bulletin.