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    Neighbors urge city to act on “haunted house”

    house 1

    Garbage covers the backyard of a vacant house at Talbot Avenue, Albany. Photo by Linda (Linjun) Fan.  

    Nearly 100 Albany residents signed a petition letter recently to urge city administrators to take action on a decaying house in their neighborhood .

    The house, located at 1075 Talbot Avenue, has been left vacant by its owner for more than two decades. Besides deteriorating windows and walls, neighbors say that it is now frequented by rats and homeless people.

    “The property has become a garbage dump, a crash pad for vagrants, a haven for illegal activities and a dangerous enticement to curious children, ” said the petition letter, which has been signed by 94 residents in the neighborhood.

    There is a children’s playground right across the street from the house, a favorite resort for several dozen kids in the neighborhood.

    Kids call it the haunted house, and some curious kids were tempted to explore it, said Rochelle Donovan, who lives close by.

    Donovan said that she saw homeless people coming in and out of the property recently, carrying their belongings with grocery carts. She was not sure whether they lived there or not, but believed that they used the yard of the house as a storage place.

    “I don’t want to see homeless people squatting in my neighborhood, ” said George Haroutunian, another neighbor concerned with the house.

    Neighbors also complain that the house provides a haven for rats – which have dug a hole by the sidewalk near the house, and might have damaged some sewer pipes.

    They have called the Vector Control Services of Alameda County, and arranged for a smoke test for pipe openings next week.

    The neighbors believe that the house is a nuisance property, urging the city to act on it.

    “People pay at least half-a-million dollars to buy a house in the neighborhood, but we have this house here which is a real eyesore, ” said Dan Baer, a neighbor who has written a letter to the city complaining on the issue.

    Some deplore the owner of the house wasting the property.

    “So many people want to live in Albany. The owner should either sell it or rent it out, and let people live there,” said Art Simon, who lives across the street from the house.

    The house is owned by Toshiko Iwata and Fumi Iwata, who moved out of Albany long ago. It’s unclear why the owners neglect the house. Fumi Iwata declined to comment when reached by phone Saturday.

    The City Council of Albany will hear residents’ opinions on the house at its upcoming meeting on March 17.

    rat hole 

    There is a rat hole on the sidewalk near the house.

    play ground

    Kids play at the Tot Lot right across the street. Photos by Linda (Linjun) Fan.

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    Read below the fulltext of the petition letter, written by Gale Williams, another concerned neighbor:

    Based on chapters 12 and 18 of the Albany City codes, it is the city’s duty to act on the abatement of nuisance properties within its borders. Individual residents have made numerous attempts to get the city to do so with the blighted property located at 1075 Talbot Ave. Albany, CA. For over 20 years this house has been unoccupied and left to deteriorate to the point where it poses a risk to the health and safety of the children and families who use the tot lot (located directly across the street) as well as those who live in the neighborhood. The property has become a garbage dump, a crash pad for vagrants, a haven for illegal activities and a dangerous enticement to curious children. This property has negatively impacted the quality of life and the property values of the neighborhood. The undersigned residents of Albany petition the city to take action immediately to correct the health and safety hazards created by this property.

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