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April 29, 2009 > Blight abatement on South Main Street

Blight abatement on South Main Street

By Meenu Gupta
Photos By courtesy of James Lindsay

The approximately six-acre properties on former Ooh La Lodge and South Main Street Mobile Home Park have become an eyesore due to the deteriorated state of the abandoned buildings and rampant graffiti.

Mayor Robert Livengood called the area an "incredibly attractive nuisance" and required immediate attention to eliminate these blighted conditions. As scheduled, James Lindsay, Planning and Neighborhood Services Director, presented the progress report of the work at the Milpitas city council meeting on Tuesday, April 21.

The "Property owner has been working diligently and has accomplished some clean-up," said Lindsay. "All graffiti has been abated. Mobile home coaches have been removed. There are some platforms remaining and the work is in good progress," he said.

"However, when we get to the actual lodge, 1556 South Main Street, we found that the state of the building is still in violation of Neighborhood Beautification Ordinance, even though the owner has made some progress towards cleaning the building," he said.

The Neighborhood Beautification Ordinance (NBO), according to the Milpitas Municipal Code, is the City's primary enforcement tool for issues related to maintenance of landscaping.

Mayor Livengood expressed concern about the blighted conditions that exist on South Main Street and the former Mobile Home Park, which is abandoned and appears to be occupied by squatters. He also expressed his concern over the delay as the issue has been brought up now for over two months, despite the diligent efforts of the staff and advised to "investigate and pursue the course that is quickest."

Defining the plan to get rid of the mess, Lindsay stated the step-by-step NBO procedure. "We met the property owner and the notice to abate was issued to the owner," he said. The owner has expressed a financial hardship during meetings with city staff. "Since no action was taken an administrative hearing was held (on April 21)" Lindsay told the council.

The hearing officer will issue an order providing the defined time by which the nuisance shall be abated. The minimum time frame, according to NBO, is 30-60 days to remove the building and the material that piles up as a result of demolition. If the owner fails to remove the building within the time frame, then the city can remove the building with court authority. "This step will not be necessary with the cooperative agreement which we have not come to signing up yet," Lindsay clarified.

All costs will be billed to the owner and may be put as a lien on the property. "As I understand the facts at this point, they are not at that level, however if there are facts that show the property is a health hazard then we certainly can take immediate action. Otherwise we do have a process according to law which we are following, that is the framework within NBO which may not necessarily be 60 days, it may be 30 days," City Manager Thomas Williams added.

On a similar note, Vice Mayor Pete McHugh directed the motion to have authorization from the property owner to have the work done and if it fails within 60 days then the city should abate and recover costs.

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