Fresno city code enforcement, fire and police officers eliminated trash and fire hazards at the Trails End Mobile Home Park early Thursday morning after the city made a deal with the property owner to take abatement action without going to court.
“We don’t need delay, we need action,” District 6 Councilmember Garry Bredefeld told The Bee. “And that is what we see today.”
The city was granted authority by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) on Thursday to take abatement and enforcement action, Bredefeld said.
Abatement action is the process of removing or correcting a nuisance or public safety hazard. Any abatement action from the city typically requires a court order. However, Chief Assistant City Attorney Erica Camarena said the city and property owner signed an agreement that allows police, fire and code enforcement departments to remove trash from the common areas, such as roads, trash bins and fire lanes.
“The city had the option of going to court and filing an abatement action and getting court order to come in here with that authority,” Erica Camarena said. “In this instance, the property owner waived that and has granted us authorization to come in and (abate).”
In the agreement, the owner — listed as George Santikian — states he does not admit any liability by signing the contract. The agreement also states that the city will not seek reimbursement from Santikian for any abatement action done between July 1 and August 31.
Bredefeld said the deal was crucial in speeding up the process, allowing the city to step in much sooner to help residents.
“We don’t want to waste any time,” Camarena told a group of roughly 30 people Wednesday. “We want to address whatever significant health and safety issues are at the premises.”
The notice of abatement that the city distributed to residents at Trails End at a Wednesday community meeting stated that the city would “remove imminent hazards,” including trash, tent-like structures, combustible materials and abandoned or inoperable vehicles that create a potential fire hazard in common areas. Bredefeld said fixing up roads and tree trimming would also take place at the park.
At Wednesday’s meeting Camarena asked residents to label their trash in advance or communicate with officers Thursday morning to ensure that the city does not accidentally remove anyone’s belongings. Camarena also told community members Wednesday that they could share any substandard conditions in their homes with code enforcement officers.
Fresno Police Captain Tom Rowe said over the past few weeks, residents have told officers that they are most concerned with fires, electrical issues and water running throughout the streets.
“The whole goal is to make this a better, safer complex for the residents who live here and discourage those who might be engaged in illegal activity,” Rowe said Wednesday. “There are a lot of good folks that live here and we are doing our best to make it better for them.”
“We’ll do everything we can do legally to abate those problems,” Rowe added.
The city, however, will not address the fenced off debris that was left over from the the two destructive fires that decimated five homes and killed Ronald Richardson. Cleanup within the fenced off areas is still the property owner’s responsibility.
The city may still seek a receivership if additional issues at the park are not addressed, Camarena said.