On Thursday, a group of community activists boarded a bus to tour a list of run-down and abandoned homes. With foreclosures at an all time high, properties like the ones we saw in San Jose are spreading like cancer -- bringing down already-depressed property values.
On one house, the paint is peeling and the garage door is held up with cords. Other houses had graffity on the walls, rotting roofs, yards of weeds and trash, and broken and unsecured roads.
The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment is convinced the city could find the banks that own the properties, but banks say they're not responsible. Banks own the mortgages, but it's up to the servicers of those mortgages to pay for the upkeep. Servicers dispute this, saying they aren't obligated to spend money that can't be recovered.
Through the finger pointing, residents of San Jose are growing frustrated.
"San Jose is better than this," said a San Jose resident. "We don't deserve this blight."
Kline pressed an official from teh city's code enforcement office to go after the banks or the property managers.
"I'm not here to debate," Kline said. "I understand and I appreciate your support (but) I still need the community to give me a call."
"We're going to give you a call, but we want enforcement," said ... "We need to get the revenue. We need to get enforcement."
The residents are unhappy about the fact that San Jose has just two code enforcement officers. Michael Hannon says he'll issue the citations and fines if residents will call in complaints.
"Bring it to our attention so I can get an officer out within 24 to 72 hours," said Hannon, "so we can begin that enforcement process against the banks."
Hannon says two officers are enough to keep up with the current number of complaint calls. If those calls increase, he promised to go to the city council.
Residents of San Jose who are concerned about abandoned houses in their neighborhoods are encouraged to call Code Enforcement at (408) 535-7770.