Walnut recently shuttered a home city staff confirmed was a “maternity hotel” for mothers-to-be from outside the United States.
Community Development Director Tom Weiner said that the process to shut down the operation took about 60 days. City staff returned to the residence near Meadow Pass and Pierre roads last week to make sure they had ceased operation, he added.
Walnut received a tip from a resident who noticed increased foot traffic at the home.
“Our investigation found it was used for one of these homes similar to Chino Hills,” Weiner said. “We were aggressive in taking care of the problem and successful at having them cease operation.”
Earlier this month, Chino Hills officials discovered at least two of these homes and are working to get them shut down, reported the Daily Bulletin.
That effort has prompted Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, to craft 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 newspaper reported.
Birth tourism is a growing trend. Mothers come from foreign countries, often from China in the San Gabriel Valley area, to give birth in these makeshift hotels so that their children can be born U.S. citizens.
"There are certain provisions under California law that for certain criminal acts - primarily for larger drug operations use - that allow law enforcement to seize real property," Hagman told the newspaper. "I don't know if we can do this ... and I don't like government taking property, but that's the extreme measure."
Weiner said signs that a property owner might be running one of these operations include trashcans with a lot of diapers, frequent linen service at the home, and people walking around the grounds in hospital attire. Refrigerators and cribs in each room also are giveaways.
The Walnut home was owned by a limited liability company, similar to those in Chino Hills. The city notified the company that the type of use for the home was not allowed, he said.
Weiner said he has spoken to Chino Hills officials about the issue.
“San Gabriel Valley cities and municipalities have to work together so we can educate owners of large properties like this,” he said of thwarting these homes from opening up.