Commerce City Motel Closed For Safety, Health Concerns

Leaking Gas, Cockroaches Force Residents Out

A motel where residents paid by the week was shut down Monday following an investigation that began 10 days earlier.

A spokesman for the city of Commerce City said a multi-agency task force found multiple law and safety violations.

Tim Carroll said the motel, located near Highway 2 and Quebec St., was determined “unfit for human habitation” by officials involved in the investigation.

The investigation team included officials from Commerce City, the Tri-County Health Department and South Adams County Fire Marshal’s office, among others.

“This was an extreme situation,” said Dr. Richard Vogt, executive director of Tri-County Health.

Vogt explained investigators discovered cockroaches, bedbugs and rodent droppings within the dwellings.

“There were a lot of things that created a potential health hazard,” Vogt said, adding his agency rarely sees such severe cases.

Gas and carbon monoxide leaks were detected by building inspectors in several rooms and Xcel Energy ordered all gas appliances turned off and all lines and appliances inspected.

Nearly 20 residents in the 28-unit complex were offered assistance on-site, Carroll said. Services made available included information on alternative housing plus a grocery card and bus passes.

"This was home, and it was a cozy home," said longtime tenant John Loyd, 44, who added many residents had banded together over the past year to clean up the area.

"After all that, the city comes two days before Thanksgiving and throws us out in the cold. How much more heartless can you get?" Loyd said.

“Based on the conditions we found in there, it required we take immediate action," Carroll said.

Signs taped to the doors Tuesday explained the units were unsafe for occupancy. Most residents had already moved out.

“There was a lot of work and effort put into our investigation,” said Brian McBroom, the city’s director of community development, “Our goal from the start was ensure the health, safety and well-being of the tenants. I believe we accomplished that goal.”

A news release from the city of Commerce City said the investigation into the motel began Nov. 15 when police contacted the city’s Building Safety Division about possible violations. On Nov. 18, Tri-County Health inspected two rooms and found them infested with bedbugs, cockroaches and flies. Tri-County officials thought it was likely that the remaining units were infested as well, the release stated.

For the past six years Loyd has lived in No. 18 of the Clear View Motel. He said he was most recently paying $150 a week to stay there. Loyd also explained he occasionally saw cockroaches but problems were addressed by maintenance staff.

"I work hard, I had a home, a nice warm home, a roof over my head, food in my refrigerator and now, I have nothing," Loyd said with tears in his eyes.

Carroll said reports also showed one room had been without heat since the tenant moved in 15 months ago and the tenant had been using a gas stove to heat the room, a violation of the city’s property maintenance code. Using a stove for heat is a fire hazard and is dangerous due to carbon monoxide exposure.

“This is not right,” property owner Sang Choi told 7NEWS.

Choi, who has owned the motel for the past 12 years, said he wasn’t sure why the city took the action it did Monday. He added he had contractors already scheduled to begin installing electric heat in the units.

Choi said bedbugs first became a problem at the motel last year. He attributed the insect infestation to cleanliness issues in some of the units.

“We’re going to paint and put new carpet in,” Choi said, but did not know when the business would reopen.

Carroll said the owner would be notified about specific problems needing repair before the units would be deemed habitable.

"This is the most vicious, heartless, cold city I have ever lived in," said an angry Loyd. Loyd said while he received a $50 gift card to Wal-Mart, it’s not enough to find housing. He planned to sleep in his truck until he can find a place to stay.

“I’m really out in the proverbial cold,” Loyd said.