SJ gets tough on cleaning up rundown homes

April 1, 2009 6:33:41 PM PDT
San Jose is taking action with inspectors going zip code by zip code to crack down on the mess the foreclosure crisis has created.

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Nowhere is the blight more evident than in the Tropicana are near Highway 101 and 680.

San Jose has $188,000 in re-development money to hire two additional code enforcement inspectors. In the next 90 to 100 days, inspectors will virtually cover every city block starting in the worst neighborhoods.

The Tropicana area in San Jose is full of trash, overgrown weeds and graffiti.

ABC7 visited a foreclosed home on Walker Court three weeks ago. Early on Wednesday, it was still an open invitation to vandals and a safety issue.

We alerted the city's top code enforcer about what we found here even after he had issued Coldwell Banker a citation.

"To find out that structure is not secured, I am absolutely outraged to find out that condition still exists," said Code Enforcement Director Michael Hannon

That's why San Jose's Code Enforcement Department is stepping up operations in the Tropicana area.

In the past week, inspectors have visited 411 properties and issued 30 citations.

A bank owned property on Daytona Drive gets a citation and a fix it bill.

"The city will take a proactive approach board up the window and charge the bank for all fees that are required," said Code Enforcement Director William Gerry.

The aggressive code enforcement is welcome news to hard working homeowners who feel like collateral victims of the housing crisis.

"If you go around the neighborhood especially the foreclosure homes, I mean they are trashed and a lot of homeless are using them to live in," said homeowner Jenny Cevallos.

Realtor Dave Tumber says from his experience the banks are often overwhelmed and don't make cleaning up blight a top priority.

"I think there are so many houses, I don't think they have time or the manpower to do that. It will cost them a lot of money," said Tumber.

But the banks and even the realtors are being held responsible. That many explain why we saw a number of foreclosed homes today, cleaned up, with notices in the windows that a property management team is in charge.

Violators like the Walker Court address can expect more action.

"So we're going to issue a second citation to the lender. I am going to have my contractor out there today to board up that structure so we take care of that immediate safety issue and then we are going to look at that property cleaned up," said Hannon.

The realtor in charge of the Walker Court home is working with the bank to get the property cleaned up. If they don't act fast enough, the city may very well step in, get it cleaned up and send them the bill.

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