Residents of two South Bay cities fed up with growing debris pile outside business

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Along South Bascom Avenue, where the cities of Campbell and San Jose meet, is a sight that is hard to miss.

Neighbors call the pile of items surrounding 2435 S Bascom Ave., trash. However, another man told ABC7 News he treasures his collections.

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Prior to an April 3 eviction, Mike Didomenico was the business owner at the S Bascom Ave. address. Another business, Array of Flowers, shared the building with Didomenico.

He told ABC7 News the plan was also to make the storefront his workshop. Anything he collected, he displayed at the shop.

Didomenico said he gave permission to specific people to leave items, but that quickly grew out of hand when others began adding to the pile of things surrounding the property.

"There's pool tables, there's furniture, there's tables," resident Paul Mantilla told ABC7 News. "All kinds of things that are showing up over there."

"It's just left out, out on the sidewalk for a long time," Mantilla added.

According to the City of San Jose's Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement, an initial complaint was filed with the City of San Jose in August 2018. The complaint cited debris left out, around the property.

Code Enforcement said more complaints came in regarding outdoor storage, items being sold and safety. The most recent report on March 25th read, "LOOKS HAZARDOUS."

"It started out as a small amount and it became quite a lot," Mantilla said. "It's almost like a whole parking lot size full of stuff."

"For one, it's just an eyesore for the neighbors, for the people who live in this area," he continued. "Personally, it bothers me every time I go by and see that stuff out there. Out in the open. It sure doesn't look like, at any time, that they've put it away properly."

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During inspections, San Jose Code Enforcement found blight violations and issued three citations between September and November 2018.

An Inspection Notice went out in January, and a Compliance Order in February, all to remove things being stored on the property.

"It's just a lack of space inside," a homeless woman who only identified herself as Erin, said. "That place was stuffed full."

Erin has recently made a home outside the South Bascom Ave. business. She has been sleeping among the items for at least a week.

She said many homeless people slept inside the shop. Another homeless man said on any given night, there could be between four to ten people who found shelter in the shop.

Didomenico said people didn't live inside his shop. He explained, when the homeless started showing up, he couldn't turn them away.

"I'm probably not supposed to be here," Erin said, pointing to her makeshift tent. "But I'm not removing items and I actually cleaned up the front."

Even with Erin's cleaning effort, nearby businesses told ABC7 News, the growing pile is impacting business.

"It sure looks like a junkyard," resident Mantilla added. "I don't think that people want to just go there and do business because it looks like a junkyard right next door."

Erin argued, "A lot of it is not even garbage. A lot of it's just been not treated properly and destroyed, basically by being locked out or left outside in the rain."

San Jose's Acting Deputy Director of the Code Enforcement Division said her office was notified in February 2019 that the property owners were going to be selling the property and were pursuing an eviction of the business and tenant.

On March 21, an unlawful detainer hearing was held to evict the tenant, and the owners prevailed. The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office posted the property on April 3rd, restoring rights to the property owner. A No Trespassing notice was posted at the business.

By law, the property owner must hold the Didomenico's items for 15 days before they can be removed.

Code Enforcement explained the property owner plans to have a company remove any remaining items after the 15 days.

ABC7 News has also reached out to the City of Campbell's Code Enforcement office. This web article will be updated to reflect any additional information provided by the City of Campbell.

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