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California maternity hotel at the center of real estate dispute

City officials in a California town have filed a public nuisance lawsuit against the operators of a business that is using a piece of real property to house women from China who are expecting a child.

There appears to be two problems that the city has with the so-called maternity hotel. One is that the site of the hotel is located within a residential neighborhood. In this regard, the city has filed a cease and desist order to stop the hotel's operations of carrying out a commercial business in a residential zone. As part of this commercial real estate litigation, the city has also complained that the business made improvements to the home without a permit.

The other, bigger issue is political in nature. Many see the hotel as a way for non-residents to unlawfully gain U.S. citizenship for their children who are born here.

On the other side, it is not against the law for pregnant women with a valid visa to travel to the U.S., as long as the woman is honest about her intentions. With China's one-child policy in effect, it is understandable for these women to seek a safe place to give birth to their children, and to desire for those children to live in freedom from communism. The question then is raised as to whether the business itself is legal, if it were otherwise in compliance with zoning regulations.

Apparently, this is not the only maternity hotel in the area either, but the problem here may be more pressing to the community because of the disregard for zoning laws, and because the specific location of the business in an upscale, wealthy neighborhood with vocal residents.

Perhaps the most vulnerable individuals in this commercial real estate dispute are the expectant mothers and their unborn children, especially if they become the victims of harassment because of the complaints against the operators of this business.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Chino Hills maternity hotel controversy heats up," Dec. 11. 2012

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