The state Department of Health has given the Trave-Lure Motel 30 days to remedy a host of serious problems uncovered by a health and safety inspection, but Aberdeen Mayor Erik Larson says the level of the violations are so serious he wants it closed immediately.
The motel is at 623 W. Wishkah St. in Aberdeen. In a report, the state inspector described the scene when he arrived at the motel July 20: People were “standing around outside cussing, arguing, yelling and fighting with each other. People were staggering around the premises appearing inebriated and confronting each other. These conditions do not appear to provide a safe environment for the traveling public.”
Inspectors are not allowed to go into occupied rooms. Outside one of the rooms was a clear, 2-liter plastic bottle partially filled with used hypodermic needles, the inspector wrote. Similar needles were “laying around the parking area, along stops and entries to guest rooms and in the flowerbeds at the property,” the inspector wrote.
Other examples of what the inspector found upon entering five unoccupied rooms include:
– Bathroom floors and fixtures were grimy and appeared very unsanitary.
– Beds including the mattress and box spring were stained and appeared very grim and unsanitary.
– Blood spray from a hypodermic needle was found all over a bathroom ceiling.
– Stained entry tile and carpet, a floor darkened by staining and spills, a room with a foul odor, and a cover off of an electrical outlet that left live energized wires exposed in a junction box.
The report described accumulated dust, hypodermic needles behind a bed, used condom wrappers, dirty underwear and empty drug baggies strewn around a room, and blood stains on the ceiling and bed sheets.
When a reporter went to the hotel Friday seeking comment from the owners, Howard and Cindy Kim, an employee summoned them by phone and they arrived shortly thereafter and said long-term tenants have been asked to leave.
Two women who had been living there were sitting on cement planters outside of the motel office when the Kims drove up. After the Kims spoke briefly to this reporter, Cindy Kim asked the former tenants to leave the premises and they started walking away. She then saw a water bottle next to the planter and threw it toward the two women.
“Take this with you!” Cindy Kim yelled angrily.
The bottle hit the ground several feet away from them. She then picked up a soda from the ground and threw that at the women. Again, she missed.
At Wednesday night’s city council meeting, Mayor Larson said he has been working with the state for the past two months to get the situation resolved. Larson added he asked the state to revoke the motel’s operating license until the motel complies with all health and safety codes.
David Gifford, Washington State Department of Health, said the owners have 30 days to bring the property into compliance, which in this case is Aug. 29.
Gifford said the state’s three inspectors who focus on transient accommodation health and safety surveys only enter rooms at motels, hotels, and bed and breakfast providers that aren’t occupied, but take a look at other areas of these properties.
Many of the rooms at Trave-Lure had been occupied for extended periods, however. Some people there were receiving mail deliveries, and staff hadn’t entered some of the rooms for more than a year, the inspector wrote.
“Based on discussion with ownership, housekeeping is not being supervised adequately to ensure that rooms, when they are entered and prepared for the next guest and after they are serviced, meet sanitation, safety and repair standards,” the report states.
That would include removing refuse at least once every three days — more often, if necessary — and providing tenants with clean bedding and bath items each week.
Not being allowed to enter rooms where long-term tenants lived, smoke detectors went unchecked and living conditions as well.
The inspector also made note of conditions outside of a an occupied room. Not only was there a large trash receptacle, but an eight-inch exhaust duct exiting the laundry room was connected to a gas-fired commercial dryer.
“This dryer’s spent gases exhaust right at the door step of room 125. At the time of this survey, the door and window to this guest unit were both open, presenting a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning to those staying in this room,” the inspector wrote.
Larson said Friday that he’s been in contact with various agencies in an effort to find alternative housing for people known to be staying in the motel.
If the Kims don’t bring the property up to code they could be subject to state sanctions, a fine or revocation of their operating license. The city could also opt to take separate action, Larson said.
“It depends on whether they (The Kims) make a good-faith effort ,” he explained.
Local law enforcement conducted a raid in December at Trave-Lure and arrested 14 people. Aberdeen Police routinely stop there. It’s common for a patrol officer to pull into the lot and just hang around for 10 or 15 minutes.
“The people there all rush inside when we pull up,” said Aberdeen Deputy Police Chief Dave Timmons. “We also get called there for overdoses, disorderly conduct, people under the influence, fights, noise complaints … It’s definitely a nuisance.”