The Tuolumne County Building Department plans to tear down the defunct and abandoned Rosalinda’s Gentlemen's Club and motel sometime next week in the aftermath of months of deterioration and a law enforcement raid and fire in March.
"We will remove both structures," Tuolumne County Chief Building Official Doug Oliver said.
On Wednesday, the Rosalinda’s Gentlemen’s Club and motel property appeared as it had for months following a March 13 fire, which damaged a room in the nightclub and almost all of nine-unit motel row — derelict, but tranquil.
In the days before the fire, scavengers toiled through forgotten piles of refuse and debris left outside the locked nightclub doors, seeking out tools, televisions, wire, or anything of value.
Just days before, on March 1, the nightclub and motel were raided by Tuolumne County law enforcement and Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control officers and 10 people were arrested on drug and felony charges.
One day later, on March 2, the buildings were shuttered as “unsafe for human occupancy” by Tuolumne County code compliance officers for extensive fire and safety violations including blocked fire exits, no exit lighting, a non-functioning fire alarm system, numerous electrical safety violations. The hotel had several substandard housing violations related to lack of heating and boarded up windows, structural and roof damage, as well as illegal electrical modifications.
Carlyn Drivdahl, deputy county counsel, said county building officials had the authority to demolish buildings. A prescribed abatement process is identified in a county ordinance, which identifies health and safety violations and certain actions that can be taken based on the severity of those violations.
Generally, after a notice and order are issued a final abatement order would be issued to the owner of the property either by mail or posted on the property, she said.
If there was an “imminent” threat to health and safety, the county could pursue a process known as summary abatement, where the buildings would be demolished and a post-abatement hearing would be scheduled with the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors.
Oliver said that the intention to tear down Rosalinda’s Gentlemen's Club was a priority and would require using all the abatement funds available. There are 20 properties on the abatement list and the properties are torn down based on the level of public nuisance as money is available. Most of the money available for abatement comes from penalties on code compliance, he said.
On March 2, the property owner was ordered to pay $1,552 for the violations, which included $1,452 for abatement costs.
According to county parcel documents, the owner of the nightclub and motel is Aponte Property Management. Aponte is the middle name of Rosalinda San Martin, 78, who has since been charged with maintaining a place to sell narcotics, allowing a place for the storage or sale of a controlled substance, transport or sale of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine for sale, transport or sale of LSD, possession of LSD for sale, and misdemeanor charges permitting a person to solicit alcohol.
San Martin, her daughter Marlinda Beth Russo, 47, and multiple other suspects face a preliminary hearing scheduled for July 6.
A “For Sale” sign has since been posted along the unburnt edge of the motel building, facing Highway 108.
The Tuolumne County Assessor’s Office assessed the value of the 2.896 acre property, which does not include the structures, at $401,000 in 2018.
On Wednesday, garbage, shattered glass, a dirt-striped dinghy and an uprooted cactus were strewn around the outskirts of the nightclub and motel. Windows and doors along every side of the structures were smashed.
Beer bottles, empty packages of cigarettes and miscellaneous rubbish were on the floor. Along the ridge of the wooden stage was a pile of receipts, some for women’s apparel and Sonora-area fast food restaurants.
Two mismatched high-heeled shoes were tucked into a corner near the entrance of a dancer dressing-room lined with makeup mirrors. Most had been labeled or claimed with names and phrases including ARAYA, WIN, JUNEBUGG and “U ARE ADDY RYDA.”
Chairs, couches, refrigerators, boxes were piled into every available knook. An arcade game was shoved behind a mass of debris, inoperable.
Across from the nightclub, the motel property was in an even worse state of disrepair, surrounded by a skeleton of blacked wood beams and cement and reduced to mounds of ash and rubble.
The March 13 fire was never definitively identified as arson, though at the time Tuolumne County Fire investigator Stephen Gregory characterized it as suspicious due to the 3:10 a.m. start and two seperate origin points at both the nightclub and motel.
Gregory said the investigation has since been transferred to the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Division.