BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — There are roughly 350 vacant structures in Bakersfield, one of which is the Manila Inn on Union Avenue in downtown Bakersfield. Although the inn is no longer in operation, the building was neither boarded up nor fenced off, which allowed trespassers to move onto the property.
ABC23 spoke to Bakersfield Code Enforcement Supervisor Billy Owens about the Manila Inn property, which was the scene of a homicide in early August, as well as the other vacant, abandoned, and destroyed buildings and homes around the city. Owens agrees there's a problem.
"It... degrades the property value and the overall aesthetics of the neighborhood. It is a big concern to the city," Owens said.
The owners of the Manila Inn property had just barely started the process of closing down the motel at the beginning of August.
"The owners actually started on the trash-out, which means that they take all the properties inside of the vacant [building] and will remove that to discourage anyone from going back into the property," explained Owens. "And then they will start the boarding after that."
The process of boarding up the vacant inn has started now. Owens explained to 23ABC why the city had not boarded up the building as soon as it became vacant.
"One thing that has to occur is that the property owner has a right to due process," said Owens. "So we have to notify them of the violation. I think also what has delayed this response is the new owner taking possession of the property." Owens added that the boarding up process could take days to complete.
Once the building is properly secured, Owens said that Bakersfield Code Enforcement along with the property owners and Bakersfield Police will be keeping an eye on the property to ensure that it remains closed and doesn't get re-occupied.
Owens says that the current owners of the Manila Inn property intend to rehabilitate the motel.
"Our ultimate goal is to get the property back up to where it's pleasing to the neighborhood and it's an asset to the neighborhood and our liability," said Owens.
Bakersfield Code Enforcement encourages anyone who sees a property that is abandoned, attracting squatters, or falling into disrepair to contact them immediately at 661-326-3712.