By Linda (Linjun) Fan
The City of Albany took the first step to address neighbors’ complaints over a dilapidated house, as the City Council voted unanimously to appoint a hearing board to deal with nuisance properties Monday.
Nearly a hundred neighbors urged the city to act on a deteriorating house at 1075 Talbot Avenue, which they called ” a garbage dump and a crash pad for vagrants “ in a petition letter recently.
Albany adopted its Nuisance Abatement Ordinance in 2003. However, it has never evoked the code to deal with problem properties in the city.
The nuisance abatement process, as described in the city code, could take “a number of months”, according to Jeff Bond, Planning and Building Manager of Albany.
“We’ve never done that before, ” Bond said.
According to the nuisance ordinance, a city staff, who serves as the code enforcement official, would contact the property owner to request entry into the house for inspection after receiving neighbors’ complaints. If refused, he needs to seek a court warrant for the entry.
If he decides that a public nuisance exists after the inspection, the staff would then issue a Compliance Order to the property owner, requiring him to correct the violations.
A hearing would be conducted if the property owner fails to respond to the order.
The Planning and Zoning Commission of Albany will serve as the hearing board for nuisance abatement decisions, after the City Council appointed it to the position at a meeting Monday.
If the hearing board finds substantial evidence that the property owner has violated the nuisance code, it would issue an administrative order imposing penalties on the owner.
An owner could be found to have violated the code if he inadequately maintains landscaping of his property, harbors wild animals or other vectors, leaves the building abandoned, boarded-up, or partially destroyed, etc.
Albany’s City Attorney Robert Zweben declined to comment on whether the owner of the Talbot house has violated the code, when asked by neighbors at the City Council meeting on Monday.
Several dozen neighbors attended the meeting, but were advised by Zweben not to talk about specific problems with the property to the City Council due to legal concerns.
“I am glad they are starting the process. But I am unclear whether they will make a change, ” said Gale Williams, who organized the neighbors’ petition.
The neighbors will meet with Bond to discuss further actions on the property next Thursday.
Besides the Talbot house, city staff said that they are also evaluating two other properties in the city, located at 947 Jackson Street and 1498 Posen Avenue, for initial nuisance abatement action.