San Luis Obispo cites self for derelict property
July 13, 2012
Story and photos by DANIEL BLACKBURN
Weeds as tall as a human, torn window screens, crumbling chimney bricks and a collapsed fence and arbor made the ramshackle house at 466 Dana Street a prime candidate for a visit from San Luis Obispo’s “Good Neighbor” patrol. And on June 23, a citation was issued by city enforcement officer Allison Vike to the property owner for “overgrown vegetation and unsound fencing.”
A cleanup to be finished by July 8 was demanded under the city’s new policy and an enforcement order was taped on a front window.
The recipient of the citation? The city of San Luis Obispo itself.
Shortly after enforcement officials discovered the city owned the property, the notice to correct was taken down even though the violations remain unfixed.
San Luis Obispo’s tough restrictions on residents’ use of their properties went into effect in June. The program, with a monicker sounding suspiciously like an insurance company’s ad slogan, is a recent application of Measure Y bond funds aimed at shoring up the appearance of people’s homes. City officials have launched an extensive public relations program promoting the “Good Neighbor” program, which is comprised of two new enforcement officers and a hoped-for network of informants reporting on neighborhood infractions.
A brochure published by the city informs readers how to report their neighbors to the proper authorities, and even provides a list of reportable offenses — like overgrown weeds higher than 12 inches, and drooping fences.
Citations for offenses can be given to both landlords and tenants without warning. City officials assert the program will help foster “neighborhood wellness.” A citation can cost from $50 to $200.
The Dana Street house is one of 280 properties currently owned by the city, some of which are unoccupied residences, vacant land or unused commercial parcels. Many of the city’s properties have been neglected with broken windows, crumbling walls and overgrown vegetation.
Alec Roberts lives next to the Dana Street house. He said that teenagers congregate in back of the property.
“I think the city should put it on the market with historical restrictions,” Roberts said. “I am sure the city would like the money.”
Brian Bassler, a city contract inspector for Parks and Recreation, said the city plans weed abatement and cleanup next week at the Dana Street home.
A second city-owned property at 1590 Lizzie is the Bowden La Loma Adobe, which has been deteriorating steadily since it was donated to the city from the Florence Bowden family. It sits forlornly on a large lot overgrown with massive weed patches and untended trees, dotted with trash piles.
The historic adobe is surrounded by a chain-link fence bearing “No Trespassing” signs. While there have been sporadic discussions about restoration, the adobe may be irreparable.
The city’s “service specialist” Vike, who issued the citation to the city’s Dana Street property, said that more than 90 tickets were written during the program’s first month of operation.
And for unspecified reasons, Vike resigned. Her last day on the job is today.