Centralia Votes to Repeal Law Requiring Motel Owners to Give Registration Information to Police

By The Chronicle

The Centralia City Council voted on first reading Tuesday night to repeal an ordinance requiring hotel and motel owners to give police guests’ registration information on demand, citing a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision. 

“This is basically outdated and we need to get it off the books,” said city attorney Shannon Murphy-Olson. 

Murphy-Olson made the recommendation to remove Centralia Municipal Code 5.34 in its entirety. According to her briefing to the council, the chapter requires hotel and motel operators to keep and provide registration records to law enforcement upon request. 

Failure to follow the code was a misdemeanor punishable by a $250 fine. 

However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case the City of Los Angeles V. Patel that hotel and motel operators must have the opportunity to seek an administrative review of the information before providing it to law enforcement, Murphy-Olson said. 

She noted that Washington does not have a mechanism for such a review in state law, and advised the council to repeal the chapter and allow police to request warrants when they need information. 

Centralia Police Chief Carl Nielsen told the council he had nothing to add to Murphy-Olson’s explanation. 

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit earlier this year against Motel 6 for giving guest registry information to immigration enforcement officials who didn’t have warrants. 

The council voted unanimously on first reading to repeal the chapter.