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Hwy. 101 property tops city blight list

By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

After a year of nuisance warnings being sent throughout Crescent City following passage of a blight ordinance, one property remains on top of the list.

A building belonging to Darryl Lovaas on the corner of Front Street and Highway 101, which has garnered many complaints because of a gaping hole in its side caused by a car crash, looks essentially the same today as it did two years ago.

Crescent City City Manager Dave Wells said Lovaas has not been cited because the owner is waiting on a government agency to approve soil cleanup on the property.

Hes awaiting approval from the (Regional Water Quality) Control Board on a remediation plan he submitted, Wells said. Once a person starts remediation efforts, its unrealistic for us to pursue it when he cant move forward.

But Wells said all other complaints were resolved quickly.

I think the ordinance has been successful so far. Property owners overall have been cooperative and willing to fix the problems, Wells said.

Crescent City City Councilmember Jack Burlake, however, said he is still seeing rundown properties around the city and would like to see things moving along faster.

I think we are experiencing some success, but when one asks the question on how its working we should and could find ways to improve it, Burlake said, adding that continually seeing the Lovaas property assures him that improvements are needed.

Wells said a total of 34 complaints have been filed against properties in the city since the ordinance took effect. Of those, 29 have been voluntary abatements and four complaints were unfounded.

The way the city ordinance is structured, blight cases must move through four phases. The first is giving property owners an initial notice of nuisance. Property owners must respond to this within 15 days. Wells said this is where 29 property owners have addressed the problems.

If the first phase is not productive, the second phase takes effect, which is to send a formal letter of notice of nuisance. Again, the recipient has 15 days to respond. Lovaas property is in the second phase.

The third phase is when the property owner is notified his/her case is being forwarded to the planning commission for correction. In the final phase, the planning commission holds a hearing and orders the nuisance abated. Any costs for this abatement would be charged to the property owner.

Burlake said he believes there are still problem areas in the city but he didnt think adding more teeth to the ordinance was the answer.

Im impatient myself ... but Im also leery of a government that does things efficiently by running roughshod over peoples rights, Burlake said. He added some residents simply dont take pride in their city and that tossing garbage is second nature to them.

Burlake suggested addressing the problem of blight and litter at an elementary level, by making it part of school curriculum for students. But here too, some problems he said are exacerbated at home.

We have a scenic area up here. We need to ask people if thats important enough to them to keep it that way, Burlake said.

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