'We feel this is the best approach': Elk Grove Village enacts new rules to prevent migrant stays

Unlike their counterparts in Schaumburg and Rosemont, Elk Grove Village officials aren't yet taxing long-term hotel stays, but have crafted a local ordinance of their own to prevent migrants from coming back to town.

The new village rules bar hotel and motel owners from providing a room to anyone without certified medical documentation verifying that the individual is free of contagious diseases, such as malaria or tuberculosis, over the last 60 days. That certification can only come from a board-certified infectious disease physician, according to the ordinance. The requirement doesn't apply to anyone who has been living in the United States for at least a year.

The ordinance also aims to prevent warehouse owners in Elk Grove Village's sprawling industrial park, or the owners of vacant shopping centers, from turning their buildings into temporary housing. Property owners would have to get a village license and meet certain zoning and health and safety requirements, such as providing a complete bathroom including flush toilet, sink, bath or shower in each sleeping unit.

Mayor Craig Johnson said village officials have been working on the ordinance for months - before the Rosemont village board's Nov. 13 approval of a $1,000 tax on hotel stays 30 days and longer, and the Schaumburg board's similar action Nov. 28.

The former La Quinta Inn at 1900 Oakton St. in Elk Grove Village - since purchased and demolished by the village - was among the first suburban locations to host migrants in September 2022.

Elk Grove's board was set to consider the new regulations Thursday, but moved up approval to a Nov. 20 special meeting once officials received a spreadsheet purporting to show suburban hotel locations being eyed to host new migrant arrivals. The list came from a restaurateur who was asked to provide meals for migrants, Johnson said.

"We feel this is the best approach, between migrants coming and others looking to change facilities into housing," Johnson said, noting the proposed conversion of warehouses and other buildings into temporary shelters in Chicago. "This is the best way to protect the health, safety and welfare of our community."

Johnson said he's open to imposing a hotel tax on long-term stays, like Schaumburg and Rosemont. But he thinks the village's rules will achieve the same outcome.

The medical certification can't come from a "regular, run-of-the-mill" doctor, Johnson said. And it would be "almost impossible" for a factory owner to obtain a village hotel license, he added.

"Any kind of building has to meet our guidelines and codes when it comes to hotel, motel or other public accommodation facilities," Johnson said. "Any place you want to house people, you have to meet village ordinances."

Johnson said he's not aware of any migrants staying in Elk Grove hotels since nearly 100 Venezuelan migrants left the La Quinta April 10. He said he got state officials to agree to that date amid drug arrests and other issues at the hotel.

The next night, on April 11, village trustees inked a $10 million purchase of the 2.12-acre property. Two weeks before, they bought the vacant White Castle restaurant and drive-through next door, in hopes of combining the two sites for one larger, still-unannounced development. They previously purchased an old Days Inn, Motel 6 and Elk Grove Hotel on the other three corners, on what is a prime entryway to town.

Violations of the ordinance could be subject to fines of $50 to $500, or legal action by the village.

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Craig Johnson
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