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Salinas neighbors push city to hold abandoned property owners accountable

Salinas locals are fed up with unsightly properties around the city, especially an abandoned home in South Salinas. They held a community meeting Monday night to find out from city leaders how they plan to hold owners of blighted properties accountable.

Neighbors have made dozens of calls to police about this property over the years, but have seen little progress on getting the place fixed up. They’re hoping with the city’s updated blighted property ordinance, passed back in March, will finally put this issue to rest. The ordinance sets stiffer penalties for property owners with abandoned buildings.

The home in question is located at the corner of Lorimer Street and West Alisal. It has boarded up windows, chipped paint and an untended backyard. But it’s more than an eyesore for next door neighbor, Carol Harner. She said police have responded for incidents at the home like gunshots, break-ins and attempted arson.

“An abandoned house is just an attractive place for criminals to enter and that makes me feel very unsafe living right next door,” Harner told KION.

In addition to health concerns, neighbors said their major issue is fire safety with dry brush found in and around the property. Salinas Fire Department Acting Battalion Chief Keith Emery echoed these concerns with the property at the meeting.

“Properties such as this, they’re old and unkempt. They’ve dried out over the years and certainly as we know it just takes a small little spark to get something like that going,” Emery said.

Neighbors also signed a petition asking the city to declare this a blighted property, a legal term for an unsightly or unsafe place. City Councilmember Steve McShane plans to send the petition to the city attorney, showing that people want the property considered a public nuisance.

It could be a lengthy process before neighbors see results, but McShane hopes to see the issue solved in one year.

The city’s code enforcement manager, Lorenzo Sanchez, said legal action on code enforcement could take 6 months to a year. But the property owners have been notified and the city plans to work with them to get this issue fixed.

“There is due process that we have to give each property owner, an opportunity to fix those violations,” Sanchez said.

As for Harner, she hopes the property gets sold and cleaned up.

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