OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA (photo by Greg Heacock)

MID-CITY — The windows are broken. The only paint that isn’t peeling is the paint that’s covering up graffiti. Weeds twist freely out of the ground. Cars stack up in the driveway like playing cards. This is not a house you want in your neighborhood.

And yet, homeowners around the property on 1417 Yale St. say that this has been an all too familiar sight for all too long.

“We’ve had many people complain about this, including myself,” said Greg Heacock, president of Mid-City Neighbors, a Santa Monica neighborhood organization.

“People have been complaining for about 10 years,” he said.

The house is an attractive nuisance, Heacock said, and the property’s abandoned nature has been a focal point for homeless activity.

In 2007 and 2009, transients who were sleeping and drinking on the property were advised to leave the area, said Sgt. Richard Lewis of the Santa Monica Police Department.

In November of 2010, a transient was arrested for possession of narcotics on the property, Lewis said.

Not long after the arrest, the property was made part of the daily police beat, he added.

The abandoned house has also been attracting cars that were not from the neighborhood, Heacock said.

He thinks that the cars came from Major Motors, a used car dealership located two blocks away on Santa Monica Boulevard.

“They were making a habit of storing cars down the street,” he said.

An employee of Major Motors said that the business was using the lot to store cars, but has ceased to do so.

Ellen Hannan, the treasurer for Mid-City Neighbors, said that the property’s dense weeds and trash have made it a fire hazard.

“I tried contacting the police department. I sent the photographs to the Santa Monica Fire Department,” she said.

Eventually, the fire department removed the trash, but police would not tow the cars parked in front of the property, and the house remained unfenced, unkempt and abandoned, she said.

“It was a horror show,” she said.

Madelyn Tarfman, a landlord who owns property in the neighborhood, is afraid for her tenants’ safety.

“When you have a property that’s sitting there like that, you never know who or what’s going to come out of it,” she said.

Tarfman has tried to attract the attention of City Hall by sending e-mails and attending community meetings, but it has never seemed to have any kind of impact on the property, she said.

“They tell me stories. The stories never happen,” she said.

Joe Trujillo, code compliance manager with the Planning and Community Development Department, says he has no excuse for City Hall’s slow response.

“I know now we’re taking action on it,” he said.

The property was identified as an unresolved code compliance case in October 2011, when Trujillo was appointed code compliance manager, he said.

Since October, the owners of the house have been sent notices on Oct. 11, 2011 and Dec. 29, 2011 by mail giving them 30 day periods to bring the property up to code.

The most recent notice was sent from the Office of the City Attorney, on Jan. 30, 2012.

If the owners still fail to take action, a court appointed custodian will take over the property until its up to code, Trujillo said.

“This is really the property owners’ last opportunity to be on the board,” he said.

The property owners are in disagreement about what to do with the property, Trujillo said.

“One wants to take care of the property, the other appears to be unwilling to cooperate,” he said.

“Our immediate concern is to get it clean and in compliance with municipal code,” he said.

Trujillo wants to see this property used as an example of how code compliance will deal with blighted properties in the future.

People in the community should not tolerate houses in that kind of condition, Trujillo said.

“They should be calling us, and they should be calling us until the issue is taken care of,” he said.


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