Northwest Bakersfield

Neighbors wait years for dangerous eyesore to be cleaned up

Neighbors wait years for dangerous eyesore to be cleaned up »Play Video
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Neighbors in a quiet area of Rosedale are furious and fed up about a burned-out house that has sat abandoned for several years.

They complain Kern County officials aren't taking care of the problem. It turns out the delay was partly caused by a miscommunication between county departments.

"This house behind me burned down about three years ago, and we've tried to get it cleaned up," neighbor Gary Lumpkins told Eyewitness News this week. "We talked to the county, we sent letters to them."

Lumpkins lives near Calloway Drive and Rosedale Highway. He said the house at the corner of Moss Street and Allene Way burned down in April 2010.

"I was here when it actually went up in flames, and it's just abandoned," says Donna Strange. Neighbors say it's been a problem ever since.

The small house has parts of the walls missing, a large area of the roof is gone or sagging down. The inside is heaped with burned debris and trash, and more charred material is stacked up outside.

"When the house burned down, there were squatters living in there -- druggies," Lumpkins says. Now, they see kids playing around, and that worries neighbors. "We saw evidence of some syringes being in here, so we don't want the kids to get poked or infected," Strange adds.

And, neighbors worry about tall, dry weeds creating a fire hazard. They want it all cleaned up.

"I thought it would be done as soon as it burned down," Isiah Diaz said. "It's a hazard." Neighbors say they've asked for help, and it just hasn't happened.

"We called code enforcement, we called different in the agencies," Lumpkins said. "We keep getting the run-around."

Kern County Code Compliance supervisor Dave Wasserman told Eyewitness News his department got a complaint about the situation in December 2011, and a code officer started working on the case.

"He began notifying the legal owners, did a title search," Wasserman said. But, they got no response. "Which necessitated going to the (Kern County) Board of Supervisors so that we could attempt to get a notice of determination that the structure was a public nuisance, and we requested permission to demolish."

Wasserman said the notice was given, requests for bids went out to companies that do demolition work. But nothing happened, and when the neighbors complained again the code officer was sent out again.

"To his credit, he visited the case and discovered there was a mis-communication about which agency was going to demolish it," Wasserman explains. "So, (the code officer) began the bidding process over, so we could get current bids."

He expects the job will cost less than $10,000. But, since no property-owner was ever located to do the work, or pay the county back, that cost will come from county funds.

Wasserman says tracking down property-owners is frustrating and time-consuming, and officers appreciate help from neighbors in situations like this.

"Anybody that has any information on property-ownership is a big help," Wasserman said. "If we can get a hold of a property-owner, or a bank that they know may be involved, if they ever see a sign in the window that says 'this property managed by,' anything like that is going to help us."

Neighbors in this area say they want help from the county, and they want information.

"I want the burned house torn down, all the weeds cleaned, and everything, a clean lot," Lumpkins said. "I'd like to know when they're going to fix it."

On Wednesday, Wasserman says that should happen in 30 to 60 days. "And our order, our warrant, will request permission to take it down to the ground. It'll be scraped clean. The only thing left will be the slabs."