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Foreclosed homes, dead grass raise ire
City cant do anything about keeping lawns green
A boarded up home in the Curran Grove neighborhood. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Curran Grove residents are getting fed up with dead grass at various foreclosed homes in their neighborhood as well as one where the windows are boarded up.

It is has been a common sight in neighborhoods throughout Manteca during the past four years.

One homeowner - Donna Barbera - pleaded with the Manteca City Council this past week to do something about the conditions that she says are hurting the property values and family lifestyles in the neighborhood that backs up to East Yosemite Avenue and is sandwiched between Spreckels Park and Powers Avenue.

One house that has been drawing the most ire of neighbors is on the corner of Norman Drive and Hutchings Street. The windows and doors have been boarded over with plywood. The fences are falling down on both sides. The grass is dead and there is garbage strewn about in a side yard.

The real estate firm representing the bank that foreclosed on the house had it boarded up. The reason was due to people repeatedly breaking into the house. Oftentimes teens and young adults could be seen mulling in the home after midnight or on the front porch area that has been vandalized. The home has sustained other damage as well including broken windows on the garage door.

Barbera asked the city to do something about the dead grass by at least having lawns watered using redevelopment agency money.

City Manager Karen McLaughlin noted that the city can’t use the RDA money for that purpose even though it would be combating blight. The real issue stems from legal responsibility for damage.

About 10 years ago before the foreclosure mess hit, a home on Alameda Street had been left unattended when a couple could no longer afford mortgage payments due to a job loss. They moved out of state. Meanwhile, the grass was dying.

Neighbors approached the city about turning the water back on at the house so they could water the grass. They had been pulling houses across the street in order to keep the grass and shrubs green.

The city allowed the neighbors to pay for the water bill and turned the water back on. What no one knew, though, is a water line for an icemaker was left with the clamp open after the refrigerator had been removed. What ended up happening was thousands of dollars of damage to the floors and other interior improvements.

The city has since tightened up its policy on who can pay to have water turned on.

The plywood over the windows and doors, however, doesn’t comply with Manteca’s foreclosure blight fight ordnance that was heralded as one of the toughest in the nation when it was adopted by the council. It calls for fines that can pile up to $100,000 is those who repossess property don’t meet specific performance standards.

One of them is the plywood covering windows and doors must be painted to match the exterior paint color of the house.