City spells out contacts on unsafe buildings

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Recently released documents provided by City Administrator Tom Haglund outline attempts to get in contact with owners of 7515 Monterey St. Fifty-one letters were sent to a Livermore-based broker, who told city staff he was the property owner and that nobo

GILROY—Over the last three years, City Hall employees mailed 51 letters to the owners of the Water Store downtown to alert them about the building’s dangerous condition, according to documents provided to the Dispatch by City Administrator Tom Haglund. The problem is, they all went to the same place.
First were notices in 2012 informing the owners that the building, located at 7515 Monterey St., was not in compliance with the city’s earthquake safety code and that it must be retrofitted. Then there were notices detailing the penalties and fines resulting from noncompliance with the law.
City documents show letters were first addressed in 2012 to John Bartlett, Richard and Ann Bauden, Frank and Cynthia Boxall and Dave and Francine Cunningham. Fifty-one letters were mailed to the seven in care of Am-Cal services, Inc., a Livermore-based mortgage broker, until the United States Postal Service started marking them undeliverable in May 2014.
“None of us received these notices at our homes,” said Ann Bauden, of Pacifica. She and her husband Richard, along with four others, were booked last month in Gilroy on misdemeanor charges after they received arrest warrants in the mail over the building’s condition.
City staff called Am-Cal in 2012 to ask if there were separate mailing addresses for the various owners. But an Am-Cal representative not named in the documents told officials he was “the property manager and that the city should send the notices to him,” according to Haglund.
“We relied on them to fill us in, since we don’t see much of anything,” Richard Bauden said.
City staff continued to mail the notices to the same Am-Cal address until a trustee’s deed was updated in March 2015 to include the names of the seven investors. It was a change reported by the Santa Clara County Assessor’s Office, which records addresses for tax billing purposes.
“We made telephone calls and sent letters, but they all went to the same place,” Mayor Don Gage said Wednesday. “That’s the problem when you have out-of-town property owners.”
Over the last three years, Cynthia Boxall said multiple attempted sales fell through and she was told by Am-Cal—more than once—the property was in the process of being turned over for tax sale to Santa Clara County.
Gage said it hasn’t gone unnoticed those who invested in the Water Store responded to the city within a week of receiving the arrest warrants.
The owner of the Live Oak Creamery, located at 7491 Railroad St., was also the subject of criminal filings on behalf of the city. Gage said there has been no response from property owner Lynette Hill.
“This is the route we chose to get them to the table,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we follow through and take them to court. Still, the Creamery isn’t making any moves to do anything about it. The Water Store is.”
Water Store investors will meet with the city’s Community Development Department on Friday in council chambers to hash out a plan for moving forward, Ann Bauden said.

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