By Linda (Linjun) Fan
The City of Albany plans to inspect a dilapidated house on Talbot Avenue next Wednesday after receiving various complaints from residents in the neighborhood.
City staff have sent a letter to the property owners of the house located at 1075 Talbot Avenue recently, requesting consent to enter the house for inspection. They are also preparing to get a court warrant for the entry if the owners refuse it.
It’s said in the letter that the house has been vacant for a number of years, and is in a “severely deteriorated state” with boarded-up windows and broken glass.
“In addition, there is often trash around the site, and the open crawl space and unsecured gate create an attractive nuisance, ” the letter said.
The City plans to send inspectors from its Building Department, Fire Department, and Community Development Department to check the house on whether it has safety or health problems.
City staff would write a Compliance Order to the property owners based on the information gathered at the inspections as well as provided by concerned neighbors.
The inspection is scheduled at 11:00 a.m., April 2rd.
City staff are not sure whether they can get a court warrant if the property owners refuse the inspection.
“I am hoping it won’t be difficult, ” said Anne Chaney, Director of Community Development Department of Albany.
Chaney added that it’s the first time for the City of Albany to take such aggressive steps to deal with nuisance property.
There are several dilapidated houses in Albany, some of which are in worse conditions than the Talbot house, according to Jeff Bond, Director of Building and Planning Department.
Bond said that the City is now evoking its building code, instead of nuisance code, in the effort to enter the house legally. Otherwise it would take much longer to start the inspection.
“Once we start complaining, you are very responsive,” said a neighbor at a meeting between city staff and representatives of concerned neighbors Thursday.
“This is exciting, ” said another neighbor Ulan McKnight, another neighbor at the meeting.
McKnight said that he would like to buy the house if the owners decide to sell it.
It would be the best scenario if the house is sold and then fixed, Bond said. He added that it’s not desirable for the City to spend a large sum of money to fix it and impose a lien on the property.
Fumi Iwata declined to comment on whether she has received the letter, or whether she would allow the inspection when reached by phone Thursday.
No cracks on the sewage pipes of the house were detected during a recent smoke test, according to Daniel Wilson of the Alameda County Vector Control Office.
“It’s ironic that we found problems with the pipes of several other houses in the neighborhood,” Wilson said.