Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What's up with the Cottage Grove dump?

Oh, that dreaded Cottage Grove house. You know the one, on the corner of De La Vina and Cottage Grove. Tenants moving in and out at such a pace you never hardly see the same guys twice. Loads of people crammed into a decent-sized house, which is falling into disrepair. Some times I'd walk the dog by and see men in various stages of intoxication sitting on the steps, hanging out in the yard, boring their eyes into women who pass by.

In short, not the kind of property one wants to have in the neighborhood.

Recently, two new tenants moved in, Chuck and Renee. I met Renee when she crashed an informal gathering in my driveway. I politely talked to her, let her know that I was going in to open a bottle of wine, and that I'd prefer she not be there when I came back out. I've been otherwise friendly to Chuck and Renee, even after the police came to interrupt their domestic disturbance, and they got back together 5 minutes later.

If we want to win our case with the police that we need better patrols and more beats on the street, domestic disturbances where the participants immediately get back together is not the way to get to their hearts.

Last Friday, I saw several tenants hustling out of that house. It appears that our notorious neighborhood slumlord, Dario Pini, oh he of the 'hey I'm housing all these illegal immigrants in rundown homes, solving the city's housing shortage' fame. Doncha' just love criminal capitalism of the Pini brand? Makes the Republicans look like a bunch of silly Catholic schoolgirls in comparison, yes?

So, apparently everyone's been evicted out of the Cottage Grove slum, and Chuck has decided that he wants to stay there...alone. He has a few receipts from paying the rent, though he has no rental agreement or contract.

For some reason, there is now a guy harrassing Chuck on the premises named Alejandro. He breaks in, crawls in through windows, and kicks down doors. Now who is Alejandro? According to Chuck, this is Pini's property manager. And he's threatening Chuck that he needs to leave NOW.

I haven't looked into rental laws in California, but it seems to me that it might be a wee bit harder to evict a tenant than Alejandro and Pini seem to believe. Not that I am all that fond of Chuck, but he actually has cleaned up the property quite a bit, and that's always a good thing. It occurs to me that we could maybe use this situation to draw attention to the wonderful slumlord problem in our neighborhood, and give Pini more of the negative publicity he loves so much. And while we're at it, what would the mayoral candidates and city council wannabes have to say about this kind of thing? Do they have any plans for affordable housing so that illegal immigrants can find a cheap place to live without bringing down a neighborhood like ours? Do they have plans to deal with Pini's multiple violations? Would they look at the house at the corner of Bath and Haley which is being ripped apart while renters are still living in it?

We spend a lot of newsprint and webspace on building heights. Yet there is this whole underground economy of slumlord and illegal immigrants receiving no attention at all, though they are contributing to the denigration of a neighborhood.

Seems to me that someone's missing the boat here.

On the plus side, at least I don't get maddogged when I walk by the Cottage Grove house anymore. I guess that's progress.


  1. Today as a City Council candidate I was interviewed by an upstart video journalist who asked a series of questions about why would the City need better enforcement for zoning and code compliance when Codes, Covenants, and Restrictions (CCRs) could be just as effective.

    Does not Pini et al. have a condo co-op assocation there in his buildings? HA!!

  2. Great article Sharon, maybe you can post a link to edhat? Come to think of it, maybe I can ...

    Why would we need CC&R's? The laws/codes are on the books. Why not just enforce them?

  3. There is not a single code enforcement officer in town. They are a joke. No one gets this done.