Nipomo construction manager’s truck firebombed

March 29, 2012

The construction manager of a housing project in Nipomo awoke early Wednesday morning to find his truck engulfed in flames, the result of a firebombing. [KSBY]

Caught on video, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff deputies are looking for an arsonist who broke out a window and used a container of gas to burn the 1998 Ford truck parked in the Maria Vista Estates development where the victim, Leroy Morgan, works.

Abandoned for almost four years, after the previous developer filed for bankruptcy, some of the primarily completed homes were taken over by squatters or robbed of appliances and fixtures.

Approximately 24 homes are slated to be finished and placed on the market during March.

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Shady contractors, incompetent bureaucrats aside, that doesn’t mean it’s OK for some jackass to torch a working man’s truck!

Don’t blame the poor working man who’s trying to provide for a family for the sins of unsavory developers who blew it big time on this project.

Whoever torched this guy’s truck is a slimeball and I hope the Sheriff catches him (or maybe her?) Actually, you can’t assume anything in a crime like this. It could be a jilted girlfriend, an ex-wife, a former employee, or the result of a personal grudge that has nothing to do with the project or the guy’s work all together. KSBY said he thinks he knows who did it, which IMO means it’s probably personal.

Maria Vista Estates is another NCSD-related scandal….and a cautionary tale to home-buyers.

The take-home message from this debacle is this: should there be concern over entrusting NCSD with building a pipeline to bring water from Santa Maria to the Nipomo Mesa? NCSD will be in charge of $$$millions for the project, which consists of drilling from Santa Maria’s closest water lines/well, under the Santa Maria River–a very technically challenging situation–and up the bluff on the Nipomo side of the river channel, across people’s properties. The possibility for disaster is present every step of the way.

The usual NCSD cronies are involved in the project. SLO County has more than enough historical evidence of how well THAT works in geting a project done in a competent and safe manner, and especially of the project being done within the confines of the budget.

NCSD couldn’t even handle the Willow Road construction process without a workers’ death occurring on the construction site. And they’re going to be in charge of drilling pipe access underneath the Santa Maria river?

Look to Maria Vista as a harbinger of the possibility of problems with this pipeline project. I do feel sorry for the Nipomo Mesa residents who will be the ones paying for this, in more than one way.

Maria Vista Estates has a long and scandalous history of corruption and lawsuits–not surprising for a project in NCSD territory. The builder was said to have a history of issues, too.

From the outset, NCSD went ’round and ’round with the builder, and lawsuits were filed back and forth. Of course, the NCSD water customers paid for the NCSD lawsuits. Just like NCSD customers will pay for any lawsuits that are connected to the water line project.

NCSD was sued by the builder because NCSD wouldn’t set water meters. While the builder had met the state requirements for sewer turnouts, they had not met NCSD’s requirements. It took so long for the water meters to be set (they couldn’t sell the houses until they had water service) that only a handful were sold. Contractors went unpaid, a bankruptcy occurred. According to NCSD service workers (NCSD had to continue to service their lines and pumps as long as anyone lived there, and even if there weren’ any residents, NCSD would have had to do some regular maintenance just to keep the system going out to the development functional). Unpaid contractors were taking things from the unfinished homes or were telling their friends to take things, such as appliances and other fixtures, from the homes. Other thieves were also stealing fixtures from the homes.

The builder filed for bankruptcy, FCIC stepped in, the lender went out of business, and the title ownership of the homes came into question. Although the builder had refused to meet NCSD’s requirements for setting meters, the builder blamed NCSD’s “stalling practices” in setting the meters for the failure of the development.

Some contractors claimed there was a history with the developers of not paying contractors on other projects.

For being “high-end homes,” the outside finish was really cheap. There were no gables that went off the roof to allow for water to drain off the roof and away from the walls of the homes. The “wood” finish of the garage doors, entry doors, etc. was CHEAP and tacky. It looked like they had been finished by sticking wood-printed contact paper over plywood. The exterior of the homes very quickly degraded, far sooner than one would expect from newly-completed homes.

Only 3 lots/homes were ever purchased.

One by one, the few residents that bought walked away from the homes. It became a security issue for NCSD. Because of security concerns, they started sending two workers at a time on calls out to the development. It cost NCSD more to service the lines and pumps going out to the development than NCSD made back in water charges from the remaining residents.

Again, NCSD customers picked up the tab for the two-worker visits, the maintenance, and security issues.

Then n’er-do-wells started occupying the homes.

As of an article in the Sun from February 2010 (“Arrested Development”, one home was still legally owed–don’t know if it was actually occupied–by Aaron Adams, who bought the “luxury” home for $700,000 and was trying to sell it for $400,00. I wonder if he is still living there.

As of the time of the Sun article, the gophers had gone a far piece to conquering the landscape, and soil was flowing out from under the foundations of the homes, into the street. This is not a good thing as it can compromise the integrity of the foundation and, thus, the integrity of the home.

Thanks for the link to the SMSun.

While blame for the failure of this project can be spread amongst many, in my opinion, market timing is a leading cause for its death.

Market timing had a LOT to do with the failure.

However, the developer wasted YEARS on lawsuits with NCSD, which wasted his company’s resources.

The developer didn’t dot he installation according to NCSD’s codes. If NCSD allowed it to stand, it would set a bad precedent for other contractors. It would also open NCSD to liability should something bad happen because the development was not up to NCSD’s codes.

If my memory serves me correctly, the developer had already filed bankruptcy much earlier than when the bottom dropped out of the housing market in California.

Had the developer simply did the development to meet NCSD’s codes, the water meters probably would have been set years earlier, and the market downturn probably would have been missed. Certainly, there wouldn’t have been lawsuits over setting water meters.

Only in Paradise County. What is happening here?

Low life human garbage moving in.

This project had problems from the beginning, part of them attributed to the builders, part of them attributed to NCSD.

This is not the first project, nor the last, to go belly-up in NCSD’s territory.

There is a very obvious orihect that went belly-up right across the street from the Von’s on Tefft Street, right off the freeway. The builder just quit working on it. It looked like it was a pretty big development, too. Graded, so the topsoil was unstable, the dust just flies everywhere. I’m sure it, and other failed projects, contributed to the air-quality issues on the Nipomo Mesa.

Sheesh…”orihect” is supposed to be “project.” I need to take a nap. Long nights and long days catch up with me after awhile.

Avarice and greed, the death knell to most civilizations.

I think the fact that, as of 2010, gophers were able to have compromised the subsoil of the homes foundations such that soil was flowing out from under the foundations, into the street, speaks to the unsuitability of these homes being built at this site–and the suitability of the construction of the homes for the site.

When we lived rurally, on many acres, we had the usuall issue with gophers and ground squirrels, the foundation of the home was never jeopardized. It was on pretty sandy soil, too. Before we moved there, the coyotes kept down the gopher population. After we moved there, our ninja rescue feral cats instituted a Reign of Terror on the gopher population.

As I said in a previous home, the exterior of the Maria Vista homes looked very cheaply done.

But a new developer is making a go at finishing the homes at the site. If he fails, the NCSD customers will have to, once again, pick up part of the tab.