Family ordered to vacate home due to code violations

(KGO)
January 2, 2013 5:49:27 PM PST
A San Mateo homeowner has pitched a tent in his front yard and he claims the city has left him no choice. That's because they've red-tagged his house and want him to abandon a property he's been working to improve for more than a decade.

The city attorney's office says they've tried to work with this family for more than a decade to get the property up to code. They even brought in a local non-profit to help the family finish up their renovation, but now the city says it has had enough. They want the project completed immediately.

Asked what he thinks the solution is, homeowner Mark Klaiber says, "The solution is let me keep going at the pace I'm going and finish the house." He says he just needs a little more time to clean up and finish up construction on his two-story San Mateo home. "The thing is, all this stuff goes in succession when you build a house," he says.

It's a project he started more than 10 years ago. "I've had some health issues and stuff like that. And we went ahead and did what they asked and they're not happy with that. They, for some reason, feel like it should be done immediately if not sooner," Klaiber says. A contractor by trade, Klaiber took out permits for an extensive remodel of the home in 2001. Since that time, he's clearly made some progress, but not nearly enough according to the city.

"It's a public nuisance that involves potential fire hazard," Special Assistant to the City Attorney Lance Bayer says. "It involves potential rodent infestation." In 2006, the city attorney asked the Klaibers for a detailed timeline for the completion and cleanup of all the debris on the property. Earlier this year, the city red-tagged the house deeming it uninhabitable. While his wife and teenage children moved in with a relative, Klaiber moved into a tent in the front yard. "Now, the city is saying I can't live in the tent because I'm not supposed to use the facilities in the house," he says.

Now, the city wants a preliminary injunction, an order requiring the Klaibers to clean up or abandon the house which they say is dangerously full of clutter with unfinished walls and ceilings, and lack of working plumbing and heating.

Some neighbors may have complained, but others who spoke with ABC7 News were somewhat sympathetic. "The house itself is presentable, but I just don't like the stuff in the yard," one neighbor named Marion said. "He's been working on that on the side for 7, 10 years a little at a time on his days off. He's been working on it. He's done a real good job," neighbor Ruben Colao said.

"I'd like to get it done. My wife would love to have it done. My children would love to have it done. I just need more time," Klaiber says. The city says Klaiber has had more than enough time. They are done asking for cooperation and are now demanding it.

The two sides will now meet in court on February 14.


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