<b>HARD LIVING:</b>  There were 302 calls to law-enforcement dispatchers from the Motel 6 on Via Real in Carpinteria 
over a three-year span.

Paul Wellman

HARD LIVING: There were 302 calls to law-enforcement dispatchers from the Motel 6 on Via Real in Carpinteria over a three-year span.

I Almost Stayed at Motel 6

Crime and Cops Frequent Carpinteria’s Highly Affordable Lodging

Thursday, June 6, 2013
Article Tools
Print friendly
E-mail story
Tip Us Off
iPod friendly
Share Article

I was getting the plastic key card out of my pocket, having just arrived at my room for the evening, when a large dog trotted around the corner, no owner in sight. He eyed me, stopped at the bushes, and took a dump.

So life goes at the Motel 6 in Carpinteria ​— ​located at 4200 Via Real ​— ​where pets are welcome, vending machines offer Playboy condoms next to Pepto-Bismol and extra-thin pretzels, and guests can’t stay for more than 28 consecutive days.

The motel is one of two Motel 6s in Carpinteria, the other on Carpinteria Avenue. Two weeks before my visit, Sheriff’s deputies were called after a long-term resident was stabbed in front of his room at around 10:15 p.m. The suspect, who knew the victim, got away and is still at large. The incident brought to mind ​— ​at least anecdotally ​— ​a cluster of recent activity at the motel, so The Santa Barbara Independent decided to check it out for ourselves. Accompanied by our photographer, my roommate, and a black light, I headed a few miles south.

By Paul Wellman

ONE-STOP SHOP: Vending machine patrons can get their condoms, shave kits, and Pepto-Bismol, along with their Snickers, pretzels, and chips.

On the Menu

There aren’t a lot of amenities at the Motel 6. You get what you pay for: low-end, budget lodging with a standard $60-per-night room rate. I paid the $90 weekend fee. That offered an unheated pool, coffee in the morning, coin laundry, and a cable package on a dated 20-inch TV. Wi-Fi is available for $2.99.

According to the chain’s website, Motel 6 began in Santa Barbara and now has more than 1,100 locations around the U.S. and Canada, and by the end of 2015, all existing locations will have 32-inch flat-screens, fresh sheets, new sinks, granite countertops, and “stylish” seating areas. Though the national renovation effort started five years ago, it doesn’t seem as if the Carp location has been updated. The 120-something-room motel was half full last Friday night, the man at the front desk informed me when I checked in. I tried to get a room for Saturday, but they were booked.

If it was excitement we were expecting, there was little to be had. Sitting outside our poolside room, we took interest in the slightest bit of activity, but aside from a few residents leaving to smoke cigarettes or walk their dogs, there wasn’t much action. People drove slowly around the parking lots, shadows paced in the dark recesses, and guests came and went through the motel’s sea-foam-green room doors. A sheriff’s deputy cruised by four times while we were there, and a middle-aged woman in a see-through New York Giants jersey ​— ​cigarette in hand ​— ​passed out on a set of cement stairs leading to the second floor. The highway was loud, its noise reverberating in the horseshoe created by the three-building, three-level motel, with the open end facing the 101.

<b>THANKS, BUT NO THANKS:</b>  An examination of the bed under a black light turned up a few questionable stains that left me not wanting to spend the night.
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

THANKS, BUT NO THANKS: An examination of the bed under a black light turned up a few questionable stains that left me not wanting to spend the night.

After reading some of the reviews online (“a horrible nightmare,” “visible stains,” “loud drunk people,” and “black bugs and bites” were just some of the feedback the motel got, along with a 1.5-star review on Yelp), I didn’t really feel like spending the night, but wanted to see for myself how clean the rooms were.

Inside Room 122, we deployed the black light. Being amateur forensic scientists, we didn’t really know what we were doing, so the impromptu investigation meant to document traces of bodily fluids turned up little in the bathroom and most of the bedroom. There was, however, an unknown stain on the headboard and a yellow, crusty substance on the side of the nightstand and on the carpet. And while the bed comforter looked clean, there was a sizeable stain on the sheets not visible to the naked eye.

By Paul Wellman

By Comparison

It might seem like we’re picking on this particular motel ​— ​in a town and region with plenty to go around ​— ​but it wasn’t just our imagination that this place is busy: It’s been the site of 302 calls to police from January 2010 through mid-May 2013. The most common types of calls were in-progress incidents involving people (147). There were 23 9-1-1 follow-up calls and five domestic disputes.

To put those numbers in perspective, the highest number of calls for service at hotels and motels in the City of Santa Barbara topped out at 93 last year ​— ​also at a Motel 6, this one on upper State Street, according to police. The Fiesta Inn & Suites at 1816 State Street had 60.

When I called Tuesday to follow up on the activity there, the manager pointed me to corporate media relations for my questions. She did say that since she’s been there ​— ​for the last three months ​— ​the place has been fairly quiet. “It’s quieter than other properties I’ve worked,” she explained. The stabbing incident involved issues between two men that existed prior to their time at the motel, she said. Corporate media relations didn’t return requests for comment.

The following is a statement id from Laura Rojo-Eddy, Director, Corporate Communications of Motel 6:

The safety and security of our guests is our utmost priority. For this reason, we actively encourage every Motel 6 general manager to maintain a close working relationship with their local law enforcement authorities. We train our employees to be observant of their environment and to contact local authorities should they observe any suspicious activities. We have not had the opportunity to review the specific calls for service for this location; however, we are aware that this location’s management maintains ongoing contact with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department. We plan to review the details of the calls for service for this location and to discuss them with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department to determine what, if any, steps may be necessary to respond to any concerns.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Interesting story. Thanks, Chris. I think the number and kinds of "calls for service" at our other South Coast hotels and motels would make for fascinating reading.

Moonrunner (anonymous profile)
June 6, 2013 at 12:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Love the corporate wonk desperately trying to cover their asses.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
June 6, 2013 at 1:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Wow, $60 a night? What a bargain! (The lowest rate for Lompoc is $43 per, I guess we really ARE an armpit!) Anyway, what exactly was the point of the article - that the lowlifes shouldn't be able to "vacation"? That the SBSO hasn't stamped its NAZI boot heel on these people's necks quite hard enough? What?

spiritwalker (anonymous profile)
June 6, 2013 at 3:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I agree Spiritwalker, WTF is this article trying to say? The fact that they found a c#m stain at a Motel 6 is not news. Pictures of a Motel 6 vending machine is not news either. Chris, I hate to break the bad news, but this article may not get you any closer to a Pulitzer. Maybe next time the Independent can publish an article that contains substance and integrity. Or maybe that ship has sailed already...

Newocean (anonymous profile)
June 6, 2013 at 6 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Chris Meager, perhaps a follow up is in order, or maybe a series? You could do a montage of photos from Santa Maria to Oxnard of dogs taking dumps, c#m stains, and vending machine snacks. Definitely Pulitzer material.

Newocean (anonymous profile)
June 6, 2013 at 7:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It goes to show you how boring Santa Barbara has become, although I'd much prefer the Motel 6 crowd over a bunch of corporate weasels.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
June 6, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

So stay at Motel Sex at your own risk. Got it. Enlightening. Truly.

Draxor (anonymous profile)
June 7, 2013 at 8:13 a.m. (Suggest removal)

You gotta spend a night at the Flamingo in Oxnard which also has hourly room rates and has been the site of a couple of homicides.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
June 7, 2013 at 8:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Je--- Ch---- on a pogo stick, spititwalker and Newocean. Get off your high horse. It's an article about an aspect of SB that very few residents know about. Not everything has to be screeching headlines or award-winning journalism. There is unusual crime at this location so the Indy looked into it. Good for them - that is what investigative journalism is. Not every investigation ends up with the perp being hanged in the Sunken Garden at high noon.

SezMe (anonymous profile)
June 7, 2013 at 2:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

OMG when I read this article I had to chime in I was there for real.
I stayed there for 28 days not too long ago.
This place was a night mare.
everything in the article is true.
i got accousted by a man wanting money outside my room.
cockroaches. the toilet water tank blew out when my husband was on it and flushed.
the beds were awful to sleep on.
that motel is the only one that has not been revamped BUT the one in SB on upper state that has been revamped has prostitutes and their pimps . drug overdoses. fighting and loud drunk people ALLLLLLL the time.
It is really filthy outside the rooms on the ground.
Vomit, piss and poop from animals and humans...oh and the rotten food that people throw in the ?
Their wifi is awful.
ALSO , my car got hit in their parking lot.
If people who live in San Roque knew what kind of people were co mingling with them in their nice little neighborhood .....their hair would stand on end.
Thank God I found a place to live and got out of the motel.
I will sleep on the ground under the stars on cement first.

oneopinion (anonymous profile)
June 8, 2013 at 7:29 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I guess Motel 6 has changed.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
June 8, 2013 at 2:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

As a not-infrequent business traveller, I found this article interesting.

My biggest worries these days are bed bugs (a UV light won't help find them, but can be used to kill them at home). On returning home, I always unpack luggage in the garage and wash any clothing in hot water.

Coolest hotel I've stayed at was the Banff Springs Hotel in Canada. Cheesiest was a 1960's-era hotel my admin booked for me in Las Vegas with a round bed and mirror above on the cieling (no earthquakes in Vegas, right?).

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
June 8, 2013 at 4:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Good article.

I live right down the street from this place, thankfully most of the nonsense stays close to the motel.

But, as a taxpayer, it looks like some sizable portion of the police protection I pay for through my property taxes is being spent on calls to Motel 6. I suspect the Sandyland motel next door to it is similar.

I'm curious if the bed tax going to Carp even begins to cover the cost of policing this property.

I'm also struggling to understand what, if any, benefit to the city is coming from this property. It's not as if Motel 6 is some sort of corporate good neighbor; rather, it's operating what is apparently a public nuisance masquerading as a motel.

Carp just raised the bed tax, maybe it's time to raise it again, or target properties with high policing costs with a higher rate.

menchar (anonymous profile)
June 9, 2013 at 11:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Maybe target the conditions that create such problems to begin with- economy, out of control legislation creating destitution. Trying to tax your way out is only going to make the issue (and the economy) worse.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
June 9, 2013 at 11:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

A more interesting article might have included the fact that the sheriff's substation is mere yards from this motel?

And the long-standing gossip/rumor that Carp is training ground for newbie SBSO personnel? Well, now THAT is an investigative article waiting to be written. No bodily fluids or black lights necessary.

Native1 (anonymous profile)
June 10, 2013 at 10:21 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Their wifi is awful."

Well, that settles it!

JayB (anonymous profile)
June 18, 2013 at 11:12 a.m. (Suggest removal)

event calendar sponsored by: