PILL HILL — Nina Shaw is fed up with what she thinks are a toxic element of life her in the South Side's Pill Hill neighborhood.
The 61-year-old says a trio of motels in the area need to "clean up their act," or else she plans to formulate a petition to shut them down.
"I brought my concern about these motels to the meeting. I told them how I have seen high school girls coming out of these places early in the morning and late at night," said Shaw, who has lived in the area for 37 years and got the idea for a petition after attending a recent Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) meeting. "That's when I decided it was time to do something about it."
She said a list of improvements have been sent to Murat Yumlu, the owner of the motels, and it is now up to him to conform to it. Yumlu did not respond to requests for comment.
Ald. Michelle Harris, whose 8th Ward includes the three motels, was unavailable for comment.
Demands by Shaw include increasing the age requirement to rent a room to 25 years old from 21; 24-hour security; better lighting at night in the parking lots; and changing the policy to rent rooms from a minimum of 10 hours to overnight like most "real" hotels.
"I'm quite sure if people had to rent the room overnight opposed to 10 hours that would cut down the number of people who use them," added Shaw. "Nobody wants to rent a room for 24 hours if they only plan on using it a few hours."
State law prohibits any motel from renting a room by the hour as was allowed in the 1990s. Rooms are now be rented for a minimum of 10 hours or overnight. Prices for rooms at the Skyway and most motels on Stony Island Avenue average $50 to $65 for 10 hours and $75 to $100 for overnight.
Shaw's neighbors said they welcome a petition drive.
"I heard about a petition drive getting started and I hope it does. I would sign it in a heartbeat," said Jerry Anthony, 92. "Once the economy took a turn for the worse, many of those 'flea bag' places closed."
Anthony, who lives in the 1600 block East 92nd Street, retired as a welder in 1985. According to Anthony, during the 1990s there were as many as 15 transient motels located along Stony Island Avenue.
"I don't like them. They attract the wrong types of elements to the community. I have seen young girls wearing short skirts and high heels walk out of these cheap motels," Anthony said. "I have lived around here for 32 years and in that time I have seen this neighborhood go ... downhill all because of these motels."
But one motel manager at the Skyway Motel, 9132 S. Stony Island Ave., who declined to give her name, said residents have the wrong idea about the motels.
"Our average customers are working people and not prostitutes, drug dealers or underage people as some would have you to believe," the manager said. "I have worked here for 12 years and I have seen this community grow. No one gets a room here unless they are 21 years old and have a valid driver's license, state ID or passport."
She said customers rent rooms to be closer to relatives, because they've been displaced by a fire, or sometimes, just to relax.
However, not all residents are against motels operating in their neighborhood.
"I don't have a problem with them. Hell, I have used them before to chill out with my girl, so it's cool with me," said neighborhood resident Aaron Jackson 27. "[The motels serve] a purpose being here because if not they would be closed by now."
Wilma Jackson, 58, is disabled and lives across the street from the Stony Island Motel at 9201 S. Stony Island Ave.
"I do not like those places and wish they would go away. It's bad enough we have liquor stores in Pill Hill. We don't need a ho house, too," Jackson said.