Some abandoned homes on Richmond Road are not only eye-sores — with weeds growing higher with each passing day — they’ve also become refuge to vagrants who have transformed them into a complete health hazard.
With people coming in and out of the homes, and with the vagrants starting fires to cook, the homes are completely trashed and filled with wall-to-wall human waste.
Three concerned community members — and neighbors of the dilapidated homes — spoke up about the horrendous conditions at the July 3 Susanville city council meeting during public comment.
City administrator Mike Wilson said the two buildings are owned by the local inner-tribal council.
Rose Mooney, one resident on Richmond Road who came to the meeting, was the first to speak out.
Mooney began by telling the council her first concern was for fire safety, “To this day, nobody has removed the weeds,” and one of the properties had weeds that were around six feet high. Mooney also told the council that there were “a lot of people in and out. They have fires going sometimes to cook.”
Mooney’s second concern was because one of the locations was “totally trashed.” She recently entered one of the abandoned houses to take pictures. Her discovery was horrendous.
“The house is full of human waste. From one wall to the other,” said Mooney. “The other rooms have trash in it about that high,” to which Mooney indicated with her hand the trash came up to her legs. She suggested boarding up the houses or tearing them down.
Terry Langenhorst, who lives across from Mooney and has lived in the community for 25 years, also said he entered the property to take pictures and described the sight and smell as “foul.”
“There’s feces on the wall. There’s feces on the ground. There’s weeds. There’s trash,” said Langenhorst. He noted that children go down to the river, which is in proximity to the property.
Langenhorst shared some of the disturbing photos with the newspaper, and due to the graphic nature of some of the pictures, they were not selected to share.
Wilson said the city was in the process of contacting the inner-tribal council concerning the properties and there were local realtors who were interested in making offers on the homes.
Langenhorst noted the inner-tribal council had shown up to the property and that Mooney had spoken with them at the time.
Another resident, Madeline French, was there to speak out about the neighborhood’s circumstances, shared that she has lived next to one of the properties and it has always been a problem as a rental.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen graffiti from my front door,” she said, adding people have been arrested for going in and out of the property.
She put forward a question to the council, “Who’s responsible? The owners? The city?”
Mayor Kevin Stafford responded, “The owners are responsible,” but followed up by indicating that the city could and would still do something about the situation. The residents were directed to the city’s building official Anthony Hanner as a point of contact.
Mayor pro tem Joseph Franco then said, “At a minimum, the weeds have to be abated through our abatement program, I assume.”
Susanville Fire Chief James Moore said, “Correct, and under that … I don’t know for sure if (the property) was red tagged or not, but it would not have occurred until this last weekend, and legally they have 10 days to remove those weeds before we take any action.”
The newspaper followed up Hanner after the matter to which he told the newspaper that what the residents did — showing up to the city council meeting to make them aware of the issue — was perfect and that if there were any similar circumstances, to let them know. Their office hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can call the city’s building department at 252-5100.
Hanner also said if residents see someone going into a derelict house, to call the police department immediately, day or night.
You can call the Susanville Police Department to report such suspicious activity at 257-5603 or its 24/7 dispatch at 257-2171. However, in case of an emergency, dial 911.