Santa Rosa code-enforcement officials are proposing a special City Hall fund to combat the problem of abandoned or foreclosed houses that have become the targets of vandals and squatters.
Hundreds of vehicles throughout Petaluma have been abandoned or otherwise left on the street longer than the law allows. On Wednesday, Petaluma police fanned out in an effort to scour every city street to find them and either warn owners or tow violators.
Weedy, overgrown front yards. Junked appliances piled outside. Boarded up doors and windows. All spell ‘distressed property,’ and to some, an opportunity to illegally squat or vandalize a building forsaken by its owners. Petaluma’s new police chief is hoping to clean up city neighborhoods scarred by these abandoned, run-down houses.
An abandoned townhouse complex that has been a blight on a west Santa Rosa neighborhood for years is being torn down this week after city officials obtained a court order for the demolition. The action, which may be without precedent in the city, highlights the problems communities nationwide are having with properties that fall into disrepair as a result of the collapsed housing market.
The Santa Rosa City Council on Tuesday will consider fining residents who put their garbage cans out too early or leave them out too long. The first violation would be $100, the second $250 and subsequent fines $500. But city officials don’t expect to issue many fines. Code enforcement officials have full case loads and priority goes to issues that pose dangers to health and safety.
Sonoma County code enforcement officials are scheduled Monday to inspect a 10-acre timberland conversion project on property near Pocket Canyon, just east of Guerneville, owned by winemaker Paul Hobbs.