By Juliette Goodrich

HAYWARD (KPIX) — A couple living in Hayward claims the city wants them to clean up a mess near their property that they say shouldn’t be their responsibility.

Just before the pandemic a man who was homeless parked his broken-down truck and belongings at the top of Lorraine Souza’s private dirt driveway.

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He has lived there ever since.

But she and her husband, Patrick Crosby, are racking up fines from code enforcement for the so-called blight and they tell KPIX they’re in a quandary.

“I don’t think it’s fair the county can’t move him and they are making us do their dirty work,” Souza said.

“What do you do with people who have no place to go on earth? Put them on a boat and send them out?” Crosby added.

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This week the neighborhood preservation and zoning council gave Souza ten days to clean up or fines will continue.

Like Hayward, other cities have similar neighborhood preservation ordinances where trash and debris is not allowed to accumulate on private property. It is the property owner’s responsibility to remove and dispose of it properly.

Osha Neumann is supervising attorney of East Bay Community Law Center. “Blight ordinances are being used to force property owners who have given some refuge to people without houses or property to evict them. The objects they are talking about are possessions of a person. They are not abandoned. They may not look like belongings to someone who is housed,” Neumann explained.

“We have been put in-between a rock and a hard spot,” Souza said.

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Souza and Crosby tell KPIX they plan to appeal to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

Juliette Goodrich