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This Abandoned House is an Eyesore

A pile of garbage and an abandoned house in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Santa Cruz. And no one is doing anything about it

Imagine you've bought your dream house, just a block from the beach. You can walk to the Crow's Nest or to Twin Lakes Beach.

All around are family homes and cute bungalows, selling for top dollar.

But right in the center of the neighborhood is this rotting, abandoned house, where if the bad paint isn't enough, it looks as if people are using it for a garbage dump.

This is 825 Carmel Street at the corner of Ninth, just a block from Twin Lakes Beach.

Ow.

Neighbors have reported it to the county, but Code Compliance Investigator Kevin Fitzpatrick says there is nothing he has been able to do.

"If it becomes a public nuisance, we can board it up," he says. "But then people would be looking at a boarded-up house."

Fitzpatrick says he has tried to find the owners, with no success. The original owners died and there was a trust, but the attorneys in charge of it are no longer associated and have no information about who owns it now.

He says he'd like to have the county go in and clean it up, but the county can't afford to lay out the money and not have it returned.

"I can't spend county funds on something I know I can't recover," he says. "If the neighbors wanted to, they could come clean it up. No one would charge them with theft. They'd have to get a Dumpster."

Fitzpatrick has the county attorney trying to track down the home owner but has had no luck. Meanwhile, it's sat vacant for years, a blight on the neighborhood and an irritation to the neighbors in an otherwise spectacular group of family homes and summer rentals.

There are rats and skunks hanging out around the place, which the county can do something about, says Fitzpatrick, if they are reported. You can report them here.

If you have an eyesore in the county, you can report it here, too.

Lisa G September 28, 2011 at 05:43 PM
Why can't the county just take it over, and sell it? It sounds as if no one is claiming ownership. They could even put the money in trust in case an owner comes forward.
Tom McAllister September 28, 2011 at 07:07 PM
hmmm ... I don't know if we can trust government so far as to have them take over private homes and land but the invitation to the neighbors to not interfere if they choose to hire a dumpster and organize a clean-up party is spectacular. It sounds like an ideal solution and would probably be lots of fun. Hold a front lawn barbeque at the same time ...
EJ September 28, 2011 at 07:23 PM
they (neighborhood) could tear it down and plant grass and use it for a community park or organic garden until the government figures out what to do
Scott Harrison September 29, 2011 at 04:56 AM
I added a picture of a different eyesore: the boarded-up house next to Staples/West Marine on Soquel. It's a little depressing that you can see that from the freeway. Or does it give the town more character?
John Hernlund September 29, 2011 at 01:53 PM
Trashed properties beyond the city limits are nothing new in Santa Cruz. The city obviously can't do anything because it is not in Santa Cruz. County gov't doesn't typically have strong resources to deal with these kinds of issues, either. County unincorporated areas like this neighborhood are not founded upon strong notions of civic responsibility. It will be interesting to see if they can actually come together as a community, buck the trend, and do something about this place.
cfaithm@gmail.com September 29, 2011 at 03:27 PM
Twin Lakes Church and other Santa Cruz County organizations have a local outreach Starting Oct 8th-14th, ShareFest Santa Cruz County http://www.tlc.org/calendar/event/12998 This sounds like a project that the neighborhood community could do in partnership with this outreach. That neighborhood is the original home of Twin Takes Church. Contact Contact: Karen@tlc.org to see if there is a way for it to be organized as a outreach.
Tina Moore September 29, 2011 at 04:19 PM
Good luck with getting the County of Santa Cruz Code Enforcement /Planning Department to do ANYTHING. They will only spend the time to send YOU a letter saying what they can't and won't do. I've called, written, contacted my Supervisor to no avail. They won't enforce their own codes. No wonder there are building violations all over the county especially places along highway 9 with tons of garbage sitting around their houses. These are visual blights and fire hazards. Is there anybody out there, just nod if you can hear me!
Liz Clifford September 29, 2011 at 04:59 PM
Who is paying the property taxes? Could the owner be tracked down that way?
Libby Gruender October 20, 2011 at 08:04 PM
The owner of this property at 825 Carmel is Cynthia Ferris. I think she lives in Los Gatos but I don't have her address or phone number.
Brad Kava (Editor) October 21, 2011 at 05:13 AM
One really has to wonder why our government employees can't solve this mystery?
Libby Gruender October 21, 2011 at 09:36 PM
I was just down there again today. There is a whole huge pile of glass bottles lined up along the front of the house. Maybe someone had a party in the neighborhood and thinks this is the local dump? I have a photo if you want it. Need to figure out who to send it to at the county!
Brad Kava (Editor) October 21, 2011 at 09:38 PM
please post it here...just go by our photos on this story and press add...
Brad Kava (Editor) October 22, 2011 at 03:55 AM
John Leopold gave this promising response: "This is in my district and I didn't know about it. As far as I can remember no one has called my office about this house. Thanks for making me aware of it. I am going to work to get this cleaned up.'
Brad Kava (Editor) October 22, 2011 at 05:01 AM
Libby: thanks so much for posting that picture. It's plain disgusting, but it looks like John Leopold will get something done. Keep me posted. I can't believe that eyesore is in such a beautiful neighborhood.

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