Two Belen homes to be torn down for nuisance

........................................................................................................................................................................................

The first to come down was a burned down home on 13th Street. Then came the vacant Freeway Inn and now two more homes, declared to be public safety hazards, are next in line to be demolished.

Both homes, one on Chavez Street and the other on Aragon Avenue, contain walls on the brink of buckling into nearby neighbors' homes.

City councilors approved two nuisance abatement resolutions to demolish the single-family residences at 1023 W. Chavez and another at 1025 W. Aragon Ave.

"It's a hard decision, because we have limited funds and we have buildings that have needs and buildings that are becoming dilapidated and becoming a safety problem — a health problem and a threat to citizens," said Steve Tomita, the city's planning and zoning director.

The owners of both buildings don't have the funds to repair or demolish the buildings themselves, Tomita said.

But Tomita said he made it clear the city would place liens on the properties for the full amount to take the buildings down. City officials have watched as the damages to the Chavez Street home worsened through vandalism and exposure to the elements.

One main concern has been a crack, stretching the length of the building and splitting the home in two.

"We have been watching, hoping that it would fall in on itself, but with the split that it's forming, it's falling out to the sides," Tomita said. "It's within five or six feet of an adjoining residence, so not only is it a threat to anybody that might go into the building, but it's a threat to an adjoining property."

A few months ago, the crack didn't reach the floor and was "just a couple of inches wide," Tomita said.

"It needs to be demolished. There's no question that its a very definite threat to the adjoining homeowner and anybody that might go into that building," Tomita said.

City records reveal nuisance notices were served to the owners of the Aragon home for weeds and maintenance since 2008. Tomita called the home "an ongoing problem and one of the longest in terms of dealing with it." The homes deterioration has accelerated to where its now collapsing.

"It's beginning to collapse. It's continually broken into and it is also starting to show signs toward leaning toward the other residence, too," Tomita said.

Demotion is estimated to cost more that $20,000, which is the amount left over in the city's abatement fund from the demolition of the 13th Street home and Freeway Inn, which cost $76,000 including legal fees, asbestos abatement and a publishing fee.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.