RANCHO CUCAMONGA - A judge on Thursday continued a temporary restraining order against owners of a Chino Hills residence allegedly used as a maternity hotel because attorneys have been unable to serve the homeowners.

"We have information that (one of the defendants) is in China," said John Cotti, who represents the city.

Cotti told West Valley Superior Court Judge Keith Davis that he heard the defendants would be returning to the United States late this month or early February.

Davis set another hearing for Feb. 19.

Chino Hills officials sought the temporary restraining order last month against the owners of a residence at 15250 Woodglen Drive, where women from China allegedly came to give birth so their children could be American citizens.

The court order prevents operators of Los Angeles Hermas Inc., Hai Yong Wu and Yi Wang, from occupying the property. The order also prevents them from performing any construction work at the house without first obtaining a permit from the city or from operating it as a hotel in violation of the city Municipal Code.

Wu and Wang had been ordered to appear in court on Thursday to show cause why a preliminary injunction should not be granted to Chino Hills barring the owners from the Woodglen Drive property pending a trial, according to a city news release.

But neither owner nor their lawyers appeared in court on Thursday.

A public nuisance complaint was filed Dec. 7 with the court alleging that a maternity hotel was being operated in the 7,964-square-foot house in violation of several code enforcement laws.

Through a court-ordered inspection in November, city officials discovered that the house has been used to house as many as 30 Chinese women to have their children on American soil.

Chino Hills residents belonging to a grassroots organization sent a letter to President Barack Obama, as well as Assembly members and senators, last month telling them of the birth tourism phenomenon.

"We believe maternity tourism to be deeply unsettling and consider birthright citizenship to be a serious enough problem to warrant the repeal of the 14th Amendment," the letter stated.

"We as citizens of America are very concerned with these types of businesses popping up all over the country," said the letter, which referenced alleged maternity hotels in Chino Hills.

lori.fowler@inlandnewspapers.com

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