A Pleasanton home deemed "unsafe" to inhabit by city officials has been given to Benjamin McGrew, a court appointed receiver, to be rehabilitated and brought "up to code" to prepare it for sale.
According to the city of Pleasanton and neighbors, the house, shown through public records as being owned by Craig and Thomas Spitzer, has been in violation of a number of municipal codes along with numerous health and safety codes.
Pleasanton Police officers were called to the property to investigate suspicious circumstances on Sept. 16. Due to the overwhelming chemical smell and containers of chemicals spread throughout the property, a Hazmat team was called in by the Livermore Pleasanton Fire Department to investigate the possibility of a meth lab on the property.
The Hazmat team brought in a chemist from the Drug Enforcement Agency, who searched the property and determined the chemicals were likely residual ingredients of a "stale meth lab."
The city of Pleasanton's City Attorney released this statement about the property:
"After more than a year of attempting to work with the property owners, last month the City of Pleasanton filed with the Superior Court a petition to place the property at 4719 Orangewood Court in receivership. On Tuesday, September 18, 2012 the Court issued an order granting the City’s request to appoint a receiver to take control of the property and institute steps to clean, rehabilitate and sell it. The City stands ready to assist the receiver as he carries out the Court's order.
Code Enforcement personnel received occasional complaints from neighbors over the last ten years regarding inoperative vehicles on the property and poor front yard maintenance. Each time Code Enforcement personnel would investigate and issue citations, but then the property owner would bring the property or conditions into compliance.
In March 2010, Code Enforcement became aware that conditions of the property had deteriorated. Code Enforcement found that the accumulation of refuse, debris and other items in the front yard were far worse than in the past. In August 2010 Code Enforcement issued a complaint and provided the property owner a reasonable time period to clean up. The owner failed to comply and the case was taken to a compliance hearing. At the November 2010 compliance hearing the hearing officer ordered the owner to clean up the front of the property by December 2010 and imposed significant penalties. The property owner failed to comply with the hearing officer's order.
Around early 2011, the City became aware of additional health and safety problems at the property which were not visible to Code Enforcement personnel from the public right of way. In light of this new information, and the fact that the property owner continued to fail to comply with the hearing officer's order, the City initiated proceedings to have the property placed in receivership.
Under the California Health and Safety Code, if a structure is determined to be a nuisance that poses an immediate threat to the health and safety of the occupants or the public, a city is authorized to institute any appropriate legal action to abate the nuisance. One legal avenue available is to petition the court to appoint a receiver. Generally, receivership is only granted in extreme situations where the property owner is unable to safely maintain his or her property. A receiver is a person granted custodial responsibility to care for the property of another. The care a receiver can provide is to order a property to be cleaned up, rehabilitated, and put back into productive use. The receiver may rent the property out or sell it in order to pay for the clean-up and rehabilitation work, and to cover any court imposed costs along with the receiver's fees."
According to court documents obtained by Patch, the property is deemed "substandard and a public nuisance and maintained in a manner that violates state building standards, including the Health and Safety Code, and the Pleasanton Municipal Code; the violations are extensive and if such nature that the health and safety of the occupant of the Subject Property, the neighboring residents and the general public is substantially endangered; the City, as a local law enforcement agency, properly issued a notice to repair and abatement order to the Sptizers; Spitzers failed to comply...."
The orders also say the property is now being taken over by the receiver, Benjamin McGrew, and gives McGrew the right to "take all steps necessary to rehabilitate and bring the Subject Property into compliance."
The Spitzers are ordered to stay off the property through the court order.
The single-family, 1,600-square-foot home built in 1967, is off Foothill Road near Lydiksen Elementary School, was red tagged as "unsafe" by authorities, according to postings left on the home's front door.
Some of the neighbors, who have asked not to be identified, have said the neighborhood has been worried for years about the property.
"Neighbors have complained for years about the eyesore," the individual said. "Neighbors are concerned about safety. It has been getting progressively worse for years. Chemicals, car parts. It is like a junk yard."
The city of Pleasanton records shows that building permit was pulled on the home in 2011. According to the record, Craig and Thomas Spitzer took out a permit for a new roof, valued at $11,570, on the home in December 2011.
Patch has not been able to reach Craig or Thomas Spitzer for comment. McGrew has not returned calls for comment.
A Case Management Conference has been set for October 30, 2012 to follow up on the clean-up efforts at the property.