City attorney moves to clean up ‘dangerous’ hoarding property

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A court-appointed receiver has been designated to help clean up and rehabilitate a Bay Terraces home that officials say is both a fire hazard and an example of excessive hoarding, the San Diego City Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

The home on Mesa Hills Court “is piled high with trash both inside and out,” according to the City Attorney’s Office, which said the receiver will also assist the home’s resident in obtaining counseling and other treatment to address hoarding behavior.

“It’s such a relief,” said one neighbor, who didn’t want to be identified. “I have children, I have pets and it’s just been horrible living next to him. It wasn’t so bad 3 years ago, but it’s gotten so much worse.”

City officials say the home’s condition violates state and local laws, as it has been without running water for two years and features doors and windows blocked by debris that is stacked to the ceiling.

According to the City Attorney, neighbors have complained of a stench of urine and feces emanating from the home that is “unbearable” on hot days.

Court documents filed this month state that city inspectors found garbage and debris littering the home’s exterior when they first came to the residence in 2018.

The homeowner initially did not allow inspectors to go inside, but months later, a full inspection was arranged, in which trash and other hoarded items blocked many of the home’s rooms and paths of travel, court documents state.

“This clutter can easily become fuel for a fire that can rapidly spread and endanger the dwelling and surrounding community,” according to a declaration filed by San Diego Fire Marshal Douglas Perry. “In my professional opinion, that extreme hoarding is a fire hazard.”

Court documents also state that a bathroom ceiling was found collapsed due to water damage and bottles of urine were placed around the house and yard by the resident.

A court order issued this week gives the receiver “full and complete control of the property.”

“My office intervened in this hazardous situation to provide relief to the neighborhood and to help the resident obtain the resources necessary to address the hoarding,” City Attorney Mara W. Elliott said. “The condition of the property not only endangers the resident who lives there, but the neighbors around him.”

One neighbor told FOX 5 that he was in his own backyard playing with his son a couple years ago when the man accused him of looking into his backyard. He said the man started firing his BB gun at him as a result, but he didn’t report it to police because he was afraid of retaliation.

Paperwork shows the city has given the man a handful of opportunities to clean it up over the past three years. It appears that wasn’t done. Now the City Attorney’s office is stepping in. Using equity from his own home, he’ll be forced to pay for a cleanup and for counseling. Neighbors worry it may not be enough to remedy the problem.

“It’s definitely mental,” the neighbor said. “It’s so sad.”

Residents are encouraged to report code, health and safety and environmental violations to the City Attorney’s Nuisance Abatement Unit at 619-533-5655.

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