Central Bakersfield

Motel residents want to stay despite health warnings

Motel residents want to stay despite health warnings

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Red-tag notices are up at the Tropicana Motel after county health officials found a bed bug infestation. Motel occupants said despite the bugs, they don't want to leave.

Residents were upset after their motel was closed Wednesday. The county health department found a list of safety violations, and a big concern is the bed bugs.

"There's nothing wrong with my room,” said Bradley Reager, who has lived at the Tropicana for 10 years. Thursday would be his last day in the room for an unknown amount of time because of the bed bug infestation.

“I can't understand it. If some rooms have bed bugs, spray them. Get rid of them. But don't put everybody out at one time, it's stupid,” said Reager, who insists his room is clean.

That's a testament Eyewitness News heard from other residents, as well: “I have grand kids, and we have no place to go still,” said Shelly Soliz, who has lived at the Tropicana for a year with three grandchildren.

The health department shut down the motel after finding a series of risks to public health. Donna Fenton with the environmental health department said the forced move of all occupants is necessary.

"A new mattress that the owner had just brought in that had the plastic still on it had a bed bug on it, so that tells us that there's a pretty severe problem ...,” said Fenton.

Kevin Carr is the motel's manager, and he doesn't see a problem big enough to evacuate all his residents.

"I work here, I live here, and I don't have any problems in my room," said Carr. "Now they're kicking everybody out, and I don't think it should have been handled that way."

Fenton said officials saw evidence of bed bug infestation in nearly every room.

"I’ve got a place to live now, but at the moment, I was homeless. I don't like that, and I can't understand it,” said Reager.

Eyewitness News spoke to the Tropicana’s owner Thursday, and he said he will meet with county health officials starting Friday. He expects to have the motel open and residents back in their rooms within the next few weeks.