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Neighbors of octuplet mom fed up with the media

Residents on Sunrise Drive in Whittier are tired of the traffic, interview requests and lingering reporters and paparazzi.

March 07, 2009|Ruben Vives

The saga over octuplet mom Nadya Suleman has dramatically changed life in her suburban Whittier neighborhood -- and some say not for the better.

Ever since she gave birth to eight babies in January, reporters and the paparazzi have been camped out on the street. Some residents said they are sick of the traffic, interview requests and notoriety.

For two years, Douglas Reyes and his wife, Doris, searched for a new family home. Two months ago, they found it on Sunrise Drive, a cul-de-sac in Whittier. But before making their final decision to purchase the home, the mother and father of three parked on the street one afternoon and observed the neighborhood.

"It was like a ghost town," Reyes said, sitting next to his wife on the couch. "We liked it because it was a nice area, it was tranquil." That tranquillity disappeared when media outlets came looking for "octomom."

Since then, neighbors have been dealing with the paparazzi and news reporters who have camped outside of Suleman's house. Curious drivers often speed down the street to get a glimpse or snap a photo of the home. Daily walkers and dog walkers turn onto the street in hopes of spotting Suleman or to observe reporters.

"I've thought about starting a sale outside," Doris Reyes said. "Maybe I'll sell tacos."

"Or chimichangas," her husband said.

But what was first seen as an amusing event in this quiet neighborhood has now become "annoying," longtime resident Mike Crawford said.

"Prior to this, I have never seen this amount of vehicles and police traffic. It's been like zoom, zoom, zoom."

Crawford, a 52-year-old construction painter, said his wife, who is recovering from surgery, has been unable to relax because of the cars driving up and down the street, and he has been on edge.

"We just want the drama to end," he said.

The speeding cars on the street have forced Douglas Reyes to place orange cones outside of his home whenever his children are playing outside.

"The other day my son was playing basketball and a driver ran over it," Reyes said. "Sometimes they don't even care if the cones are out there."

This past week, one neighbor, frustrated with all the attention, walked out of his home carrying a shotgun and shouting at members of the media lounging outside.

Authorities are investigating the matter.

Sweeping up cigarette butts outside of her home Thursday afternoon, 87-year-old Thelma Steinweg said she's mostly fed up with the paparazzi, who often leave trash outside of her house. "This is a pack of rats," she said.

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ruben.vives@latimes.com

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