San Luis Obispo cites self for derelict property

July 13, 2012

This is the ramshackle sight that greets neighbors of the SLO-owned Dana Street house.

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.

An arbor lies tangled on the ground at 466 Dana in SLO, where the city unknowingly ticketed itself.

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.

The historic Bowden La Loma Adode, fenced and decaying, may be beyond repair.

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.

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Allison Vike is a rare individual who should be praised, and promoted. It is the City itself that has the most frequent set of overgrown, diplapidated and unsightly properties in the City. While other more timid individuals would have overlooked those, Vike honestly did her job and posted the citations without asking herself who in City management would get mad … and retaliate.

Filing for City Council starts Monday. I wonder if Allison Vike would consider filing to run for Mayor?

Inform on your neighbor, cohorts, friends and people you don’t like! Sounds like Katie Litchig has brought back the “Second Red Scare” and to SLO town! So, if you don’t like your neighbor and you want to make their life a living hell, then make “reckless, unsubstantiated accusations” about your neighbor, their home, their kids, their dogs, or whatever you want. And don’t worry; the City will not disclose the complaining party’s name to the victims who are then harassed by City Officials. The names of complaining parties cannot be released because they may be retaliated against. It appears that we will drive out what Katie and Christine have apparently deemed the less desirables of their community! Just hope that it is not you on the other side of the Litchig fence. Oh yes, they also have a plan to eradicate the homeless in SLO town under a recently passed emergency ordinance in defiance of Judge Crandall’s ruling – circumventing a Judge’s ruling, just brilliant!

Typically, people whose homes that have become visual eye soars in our community or those that live in vehicles are elderly, feeble, and/or poor. Yes, this is another assault on the poor within our community – the happiest and apparently vying to be the friendlies little town in America. Friendly and happy as long as you have means – financial that is. If you are poor, destitute or just mentally disadvantaged because of birth and/or age do not worry, the City apparently has a program under Katie Litchig and Christine Dietrick just for you? We will eradicate the undesirables in SLO. It is a crime to be poor in SLO town. We will push them out and make SLO town our town! And if we can’t get them all out, we will have separate, but equal facilities. Given enough time, landlords won’t be able to rent to people under thirty, because we all know they are reckless, wild, noisy and don’t manicure their front yards (sarcasm). We have all been there or will be there. What has SLO become. It is like a bad example out of American History being relived right in our town. Soon it will be illegal for Armenians to own property in SLO town. Watch out Ken, Katie may be coming for you. Remember it was illegal for people of Armenian descent to own real estate in the central valley of California into the sixties. Thank god those laws were abolished and only after people were persecuted for generations. What has SLO town become?

When I moved here in ’80, I found in short order SLO to be an elitist, nose in the air town. As of late with what you have mentioned above, they just keep proving it for me.

Eugenics. Right here is little River City.

iross says “who is truly paying?”

The question to ask is why the city is letting all this valuable property deteriorate? A significant amount of capital is tied up in these properties. If its city owned its not bringing in property tax revenue. Its declining in value because it is not being maintained. SLO’s priorities are all screwed up. SLO requires the homeless to turn over their meager incomes to Prado. It fines them if they park on public streets and under the euphemisim Good Neighbor it wants you to be an an informant on your neighbor.

Some of these properties are historical buildings. Where is the historical society? Hate to say it but I have found they are usually well meaning whimps.

Maybe the city should hire Dan Duvall to manage their properties. This is disgraceful and there should be some heads knockin all the way from the top down.

Another fleecing of the taxpayer’s money.

“However, the article does show that the City of San Luis Obispo needs to take care of their properties to the same level that is being enforced on others. One question that we all must ask our self is If the Code Enforcement fines a city owned property then who is truly paying?? It would be you the tax payer! It would make no sense to fine within the city as it is just a transfer of money from one department to another… It would make far more sense just to clean the properties.”

Bingo, selective enforcement after the fact and probably entirely because of a citizen complaint. Then the enforcement officer posts a property she should have checked on the county accessors or city website that shows all city owned property and the same sites used to get property owners name and mailing address for the leagl notice in writing to abate. No wonder she quit…

Qustion, what is the salary of “The city’s “service specialist” ” ?

The city should sell lotto tickets with the winner getting the house .

What’s next? The city fining itself, the fine to paid by the taxpayers, then the city sending a special crew over to clean it up, at overtime salaries, again paid for by the taxpayers, because the people already employed by the city who are responsible to do this in the first place are not being held accountable for not doing their job. We are already told we pay such higher salaries because we need to get the best people, well I guess we got them again…… Maybe they just need a raise because they are overworked….. or be allowed to retire at 45.

Let the homeless sleep there. Six RVs per house sounds right.

I love the jumping to conclusions by everyone here! This entire article is filled with several incorrect information and Cal Coast News should be held responsible for printing false information. A simple request through the freedom of information act would show you how much of this is incorrect or just plain false. OK you lambs, don’t always trust what you read as Gospel and complete some research yourself. However, the article does show that the City of San Luis Obispo needs to take care of their properties to the same level that is being enforced on others. One question that we all must ask our self is If the Code Enforcement fines a city owned property then who is truly paying?? It would be you the tax payer! It would make no sense to fine within the city as it is just a transfer of money from one department to another… It would make far more sense just to clean the properties.

So you the anonymous commenter slings mud about unspecified “incorrect information” and you want someone held responsible for printing false information?

So start with your real name and specify what wrong info “fills” the article.

Otherwise you are just another Hater Troll (and an amateur at that).

Where is the falseness? The city doesn’t own the properties? Blackburn photoshopped the tall brush and deterioration of the structures? The fencing is sound? Allison Vike didn’t issue the citation? Those trash piles are really large, rambunctious gophers at play?

I get it.

The falsness lies in the “Good Neighbor” slogan, which may likely be trademark infringement toward that oh, so familiar insurance company. Don’t worry, no one really bought into that lie.

The falsness is that the city did not plan to weed the following week, but decided to so state because of the egg on their hypocritical faces.

Allison Vike? We will forever refer to those rare persons who come forward against oppressive government in all of its ugly forms as doing a “Vike”. THANK YOU!

iross points out: “It would make no sense to fine within the city as it is just a transfer of money from one department to another… It would make far more sense just to clean the properties.”

Applied to government in general this would mean that the Regional Water Quality District should not fine San Luis Obispo or the South County sewer district for respective toxic waste or raw sewage releases. And the Air Pollution Control District should not be fining the State Parks Department. Does iross think this logic should extend to the Coastal Commission not being able to fine City of Pismo Beach when the City armors the bluffs to keep Ocean Avenue and the City’s sewer pipes from being washed onto the beach (where Regional Water Quality will issue a fine for sewage release)?

Excellent point, Cicero! Am anxious to see Iross’ response.