before 1

Burnt house, 2010
RV on left occupied occasionally


In the summer of 2010, a tragedy occurred. A home in my district caught fire and was destroyed.  So began a three year odyssey. This morning I woke and as usual, went outside to check my Koi pond and heard the intriguing sounds of heavy equipment. I live on a cul de sac but if you could drive through my cul de sac you would drive directly to this house. As the crow flies, it is a quarter mile away directly west.

The owners, of what I came to call the “burnt house,” had no insurance with which to rebuild. They also had not paid their property taxes. Their registered address was in another Valley city but the house was used sporadically for among other things, teen parties. They kept an old RV on the property and from time to time someone lived in it. Their registered address was in another Valley city but the house was used sporadically for teen parties. As the district councilmember I often received complaints about this eyesore. Nearby residents, after 6 months of inactivity regarding clean up or reconstruction, were complaining about a loss to their property values. Something needed to happen. However, there was activity of a different sort. During the winter holiday season of 2010, the owners hosted a haunted open house and a Christmas open house, soliciting donations to defray the cost of reconstruction. They were not successful events. The house was unsafe, to say the least, and I alerted the city’s Building Safety Department to the condition of the house and the public holiday events. The city quickly publicly posted it as unsafe.


do not enter

City posted “Do not enter”


donation solicitation 2

Donation solicitation

Burnt house after 1

Burnt house demolition Oct., 2013

My crusade to remove this blighted eyesore began. I bluntly nagged city personnel to move on this situation. The city took the owners to court repeatedly. The owners were very good at gaming the system, asking for continuances; promising to produce documents for the court only to come up with an excuse for their non-appearance and asking for even more time. For 3 years they ran a delaying tactic. They finally exhausted the court’s patience and the city motion for demolition was granted. Today the city is removing the skeleton of this house. The costs will be paid by the city and the city will lien the property to cover those costs. It will be a vacant lot in a great location that someone will love. It will be purchased, the lien paid and a new home will rise from the ashes giving new life to the neighborhood. Three years later my crusade has finally ended.

©Joyce Clark, 2013

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