By Emily Turner

SANTA ROSA (KPIX 5) — A North Bay city has finally found a way to deal with some nightmare neighbors.

It was that one house on the block that everyone complained about.

The property on Richmond Drive near Santa Rosa Junior College, is tucked in between well-maintained lawns and neat homes.

The house is so bad that it’s been fenced off and is about to be boarded up.

Neighbor Patricia McCloskey let out a sigh and said, “It was horrible, horrible. My mom is 82 and I’d say call me when you pull onto the street. I wouldn’t let her get out of the car by herself.”

For thirty years, neighbors say, it was a blight and danger to their street. Until now, when the city of Santa Rosa shut it down for good.

Neighbor Ed Thompson said, “It just kept going on and on with things happening and you think: Is it really over? Did it end?”

The court forced the home into condemnation using a drug abatement statute.

In this case, it allowed the city to go after the homeowner in civil court for allegedly allowing drug activity on the property.

In the trial brief, the city cited 1,203 calls for service in a five-year period to the address as well as a laundry list of neighbors’ horror stories.

“There was a guy living in the rafters and the vent looks right into her bathroom window. She’s in there one day and she sees this guy looking at her,” McCloskey said.

The judge sided with the city and now the owner is forced to sell the house and anyone on the property will be arrested.

The statute is not often used by municipalities, a city attorney says, but the success of this case has cities like Petaluma and Vallejo calling Santa Rosa for information on whether it could help them deal with problem houses too.

“It’s quality of life. You know, you want to feel safe in your neighborhood,” McCloskey said.


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