Inglewood Police identified the man as 37-year-old Danny Harley of Compton.
Police say the suspect first set five small fires in a room at the motel and ignored officers’ orders to open the door.
His efforts activated the motel’s sprinkler system and prompted guests to evacuate.
The suspect then went outside and began climbing from one balcony to another.
At one point he brandished a knife and threatened to kill himself. Police say the suspect had previously been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Los Angeles Fire Department firefighters on scene used a ladder to persuade the suspect to come down and give himself up, and he was subsequently taken into custody.
Police officials say the suspect was arrested on suspicion of arson, and was taken to a hospital psychiatric ward for evaluation.