JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Guests found out Wednesday morning that the Gold Rush Inn was closed and could not accept new customers. A note on the front door alerted guests, it reads “this establishment is closed to protect public health and safety.” It was issued by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
Councilman Reggie Gaffney, of district 7, was at the property Sunday night after a shooting.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Crime Map, this was the second shooting in about a month.
Gaffney said he wanted to shut the motel down as a nuisance to neighbors. He said most of the crime stems from drugs and there’s police activity in the area nearly every weekend. According to Gaffney, there was 800 calls for service and eight murders at the property from September of 2019 to September 2020.
The state order is only temporary, according to Gaffey. But he said the Fire Marshal will go through to look for code violations and have the property condemned.
State Senator Audrey Gibson said, “We’ve had issues on this corner for a number of years. It raises its ugly head...[the owner] should’ve been more responsible about who they were renting to. They have a responsibility and liability for what happens on their property.”
Gibson raised concerns that it couldn’t be shut down on a city level and took so long. Councilmembers Reggie Gaffney and LeAnna Cumber are introducing legislation to form a nuisance abatement board. Cumber said it would allow the city to shut down properties for drug and prostitution problems, which code enforcement currently does not have the power to do. Action News Jax’s Robert Grant spoke with guests at the property who said they didn’t know what they would do next. The owner of the property cannot charge guests, but they can stay temporarily.
”I’m stuck in a limbo right now. I can lose my job because I’m not going to have a place to live. What are my wife and I going to do then?” Carlton Balkcom asked. He moved to Jacksonville from South Florida in July and has stayed at the Gold Rush Inn ever since.
Gaffney said the city will provide assistance to help guests find another place to stay.
Cox Media Group