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What's bugging you? Neglected homes

March 30, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Is there an eyesore house in your neighborhood? That's what's bugging a lot of Eyewitness News viewers: Local homes in disrepair and yards filled with weeds and trash. Here's how to make your neighbors clean up, or pay up.

On a nice quiet residential street, there is one home that looks much worse than the others, with the paint peeling off, a messy yard. That is bugging neighbors.

"When you have a dirty house and everybody else is trying to keep their house up and then you have that one house in the neighborhood, it lowers the value in your house," said one La Puente resident.

"It comes back to community pride," said Bob Spencer, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Works. "Residents, communities these days have a lot of pride in their neighborhoods and their communities. They don't like to see this kind of substandard properties in their neighborhoods."

The county of Los Angeles has 11 nuisance-abatement teams that look for code violations and substandard housing. They can order the owners to clean up or pay up.

"Broken-down vehicles in the front yard, to trash and garbage around the place," said Spencer. "We could have structures that have been illegally built, structures that are falling down."

A man was sleeping in a car in the front yard of one home. He wouldn't give his name but said his friend rents the house, and after the county came by they tried to clean up a bit.

"We got rid of a lot of chickens and stuff and everything," said the man. "Back there it's nice and everything."

"I see that lots of times. Who knows, not my house though," said La Puente resident Faye Lomax.

Real estate agent Lupita Goodlin says just one house like this will reflect on every house on the street.

"Definitely as a realtor it does affect the values to see the cars on the yard," said Goodlin. "People in fact stay away from neighborhoods like that."

So what can you do about it? The county says it can't find every house on its own. You can report it and an inspection team will come out.

"We're not actively out there policing it," said Spencer. "If our building inspectors do see these kinds of things, they will act. But the vast majority of complaints actually come from residents who ask us to come in and assist them in making sure that their communities stay very good."

If a nuisance home is bugging you in your neighborhood, you can report it to the L.A. County Department of Public Works.