News


The little house on Boranda Avenue

Having to demolish elderly woman's home was 'gut wrenching,' officials said

City officials say they explored every alternative they could think of before deciding to demolish an elderly woman's home on Boranda Avenue late last year. In the end, they said, the 100-year-old house was too far gone to be saved.

The small yellow house at 913 Boranda Ave. had gone unnoticed behind overgrown foliage before city building inspectors arrived last summer in response to a tip from Adult Protective Services that the roof was falling in. It was occupied by Loretta Pangrac, an elderly woman on a fixed income whose family had owned the property and the home for decades and passed it along to her.

Months went by as the city tried to work with various volunteer organizations to see if the house could be repaired or rebuilt. As winter neared, then-building official Dave Basinger was worried the oncoming rains would cause the roof to fall in on Pangrac, who refused many times to leave her home.

"Why didn't they just leave me alone and let me deal with it?" said Pangrac, who spoke on the phone from the Mountain View hotel room where she has lived since November, when the house was demolished. She said she feels like the city stole her house.

Basinger, who was taking on the role as interim building official at the time, said he called building officials in other cities for advice. Most said they never had to deal with such a situation. A few told stories that were just as "gut wrenching" as this one was turning out to be, he said.

He eventually had to declare the home a dangerous "public nuisance," and it was demolished in November to prevent it from falling on someone, officials say.

"She didn't want to leave her home; this was her home," said interim city attorney Jannie Quinn, who supervises the city's building inspectors. "I cannot stress enough how hard city staff worked with Loretta Pangrac to find a solution to her situation. We couldn't find a way to fix it."

Because Pangrac was unable to afford repairs, the volunteer organization Rebuilding Together was called in to see what could be done. But after years with a damaged roof, the house's walls and roof support beams had sustained serious water damage and were crumbling, Basinger said, and the roof was in "imminent danger of collapse."

The home would have to be completely rebuilt at a cost of $250,000, which was unaffordable for Pangrac and beyond what Rebuilding Together was able to do, he said.

Officials said that on the day they came to deliver a court order to Pangrac forcing her to be out by November, she appeared to be exhausted from emptying buckets of water from a heavy rainstorm the night before. The Police Department's top negotiator was there to talk to her and she left willingly, officials said.

On Tuesday the City Council took up the matter of whether to place a lien on the property, and during the discussion council member Jac Siegel said that more of the roof had fallen in on that rainy night. It was also revealed during the meeting that on the day she was removed from her home, Pangrac was taken to a holding cell by police and then given a psychiatric evaluation.

At one point Pangrac asked to live in a trailer on the property, but city ordinances won't allow for it, Basinger said. Real estate agent Timothy Proschold said he has been contracted to put the property up for sale once some issues with the title for the land are worked out.

Ultimately, the council voted 4-2 on Tuesday to place a lien on the property in order to recoup $19,630 in city expenses, including putting up Pangrac in a hotel for two weeks, putting her belongings in emergency storage and nearly $18,000 in demolition costs.

Council members Margaret Abe-Koga and John Inks opposed the lien, with Inks saying it was "chilling" how the city "scraped" the home. Other members disagreed, including Ronit Bryant, who said it was appropriate for the city to step in to prevent the house from falling in on Pangrac, as well as recouping the costs through a lien. Siegel appeared to caution others against feeling sorry for Pangrac, because she refused to be helped by several community members he knows who work with seniors. He said he himself had visited the home and that it was in such bad shape that a person could shake the whole building with their hands.

Pangrac said she was upset about the lien, which the city will subtract from the property's sale price.

"They are responsible for everything they did and now they want to me to pay for it?" she told the Voice.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Huh?
a resident of another community
on Feb 23, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Despite the danger the house posed for Ms. Pangrac and it's condition apparently being a violation of building code, it seems unfair that the city forces a person out of their home, demolishes it and then charges that person for the costs.

Gut wrenching indeed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by sue
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 23, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Did Loretta have any family? oh wait! i'm sure they'll pop up now that she's selling the property. So now she's homeless and soon she'l be broke.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ron
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 23, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Huh? - Think for a moment. How is this unfair. It was not the city's fault that the house was in this condition. If they City new and just let it go and she died of illness related to the living conditions, you can bet someone would be suing the city for a lot more than $19K. And she is not being handed a bill. A lien has been put on the property, which will most likely be settled by whomever buys it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Blix
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 23, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Shame on the city!!! Is this how we treat the elderly??
What comes around goes around, it's called KARMA


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MV Neighbor
a resident of Willowgate
on Feb 23, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Common sense says, put a For Sale sign up and see what interest is peeked; someone would buy it. I don't think they did everything they could here as there was no mention of the City offering the owner advice to seek a Realtor. I wonder what the real motive is here....we shall see.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by George
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 23, 2010 at 3:07 pm

It is the complete loss of Humanity and Compassion that is far, far, more gut wrenching.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Pete
a resident of Castro City
on Feb 23, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Perhaps it is this new intrasigence of people who are unable to make exceptions at the expense of the 'greater good'.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by david
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 23, 2010 at 3:11 pm

And you wonder WHY Joe Stack did what he did?

Please remember that Humanity and Compassion are the higher ideals, not compliance to man made laws.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dr. Collateral
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 23, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Dr. Collateral is a registered user.

Actually, I DO wonder why Joe Stack did what he did. Remind me again what injustice gave Joe Stack the right to murder Vernon Hunter, a two-tour Vietnam veteran.

Setting that aside, what, exactly, was so inhumane about moving an elderly woman out of a home that was in immediate danger of falling down and killing her? Will the "humanity and compassion" hand-wringers step up and buy the property to ensure that Ms. Pangrac receives some cash settlement? Or at least donate toward covering the cost of lien? Let he who has sent the first check cast the first stone.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Aide for America
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 23, 2010 at 3:34 pm

It's always a shame when someone loses their home and way of life as they have known it, especially when a city is the cause of it. I agree that the city could have done more to help Loretta Pangrac alternatively, I agree they should have considered a realtor and saved a 100 year old piece of history as well as put what money she could have made on the sale into her bank rather than the cities. I think it's deplorable that they can put a lein on her property for the cost of tearing her home down and putting her up in a hotel? That's the least they could do for displacing this woman.

I belive we as Americans don't do enough for the needy in our own communities unless of course it benefits "us" in some way, but yet "we" can send millions of American taxpayers money to Haiti to help them medically, emotionally and to help rebuild their communities? When was the last time they did anything for us? Don't get me wrong, I think it's amazing that we can pull our resources together so quickly to help others in need, but I have yet to see the same kind of help given here for our own neighbors displaced by a failing economy.

I can only hope that someone here has the compassion to reach out to mrs Pangrac in her time of need, and NOT to take advantage of her age and destitution. There are WAY to many sharks out there today who thrive on pepople in this vary position. She (hopefully) will be coming into some much needed money and potentially lose it to yet another scammer laying in wait.

I agree with all the others who said "Gut wrenching"... We should ALL be ashamed!

Please see us on Facebook - Aide for America

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by margaret turner
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 23, 2010 at 3:56 pm

How many of us look out for our neighbors? These days one can be a hidden object and no-one is interested or bothers to look. People are so caught up in their own lives that they have no time for anyone else. It saddens and disappoints me that this happened just around the corner from where I live. Neighbors should learn a lesson from this case and and pay more attention to our fellow humans especially when they are elderly.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by DM
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 23, 2010 at 3:56 pm

The City gave Ms. Pangrac 10 days to appeal the ruling to demolish the house. She's an elderly lady without a car and doesn't even understand what has happened to her, how to appeal, or how to get help. She hasn't talked to city officials because she's affraid of them. This is a complete failure on Mountain Views part to take care of their senior communitity. Where's the Senior Advisory Committee? Mountain View Police threw her out and now the City Council has a vote tonight on whether to stick her with the bill. I hope they make the right vote.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tim Proschold
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 23, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Hello, my name is Tim Proschold, and I am the Realtor representing Loretta Pangrac in the sale of her property. FYI, it has not hit the market yet as there are some outstanding title issues that are currently being resolved, but you should see it in the near future on the MLS if we can work through everything.

I will be attending the City Council meeting this evening to speak on behalf of Loretta, and would like to urge people that have an opinion on this issue to attend the meeting as well. The past cannot be undone, but you have the opportunity to influence the future by sharing your thoughts. This is why we have a public process, and without exercising your voice within the public forum it is tantamount to acceptance of what has been done.

I look forward to seeing some people sharing their thoughts this evening.

Regards,

Tim


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CA MD
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 23, 2010 at 4:37 pm

I agree with Dr. Collateral. "Let he who has sent the first check cast the first stone."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by reality check
a resident of another community
on Feb 23, 2010 at 4:39 pm

I don't understand how saving a person from imminent danger is heartless on the city's part. It would have been far more heartless if the city had stood by and done nothing, knowing what they did of the danger to this woman's life. Better yet, it probably would have been cheaper to ignore it...with no family or friends (apparently) to advocate on her behalf, she would have just been another sad statistic in the ever-growing story of people who are left behind.
Stop complaining and start acting, people. If you really feel so moved as to abhor this situation, see about opening an account for donations to help foot the bill. Otherwise, get off of your pedestal and realize that these situations are lose/lose and the best thing that could have been done was done.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Where's Adult Protective Services?
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 23, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Adult Protective Services rats her out under the guise of "helping and protecting the elderly" and then leaves Ms. Pangrac with the bill? City of Mountain View claime it takes $20K to demolish a house that is allegedly falling down in the first place? State and local government has overstepped so far that it screams of "elder abuse". While Ms. Pangrac's story is tragic, let's not lose the forest for the trees. Any Government, unchecked, can do this to any of you as well.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Big Al
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 23, 2010 at 7:01 pm

As soon as you all realize that the government knows exactly what's best for us all, the sooner you will become more comfortable with Obamacracy. Only the government can solve our current problems. Massive government spending and massive government programs and oversight are the solution!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 23, 2010 at 7:13 pm

One has to wonder what the letters would look like if the City did nothing, and Ms. Pangrac was found 3 months from now partially decomposed in her bedroom. I'd imagine protests of an overstepping government would be replaced with accusations of a distant, uncaring municipality that could care less about its senior citizens.

I wait patiently to see the donations and funds that will be provided by the folks so enraged by the City's inadequate response. If I see none, then I'll assume what these letters really are, are an appropriation of this poor woman's situation, to push a personal agenda or prejudice.

That would be the greater crime.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by DM
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 23, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Dear Hardin,

I have no personal agenda. This is simply wrong. I feel sorry for you if you can't see that.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Big Nan
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 23, 2010 at 8:15 pm

I have seen this house prior to it being torn down. It truly was frightening, particularly the roof. It was clear that whomever lived there was doing the best they could because the yard was always tidy and there were little charming things in the front yard. I walked by the house many times, wondering who lived there, and I never once met her. While I truly feel sorry for her loss, I am actually relieved that she is not in danger because that house was truly falling down. I agree that we do not take good care of our elders, but I am hopeful that through this she will connect with other elderly folks and that maybe some good things will happen for her.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 23, 2010 at 9:09 pm

"I have no personal agenda. This is simply wrong."

Doesn't seem "simple" to me. According to the newspaper article, the City spent months trying to address this predicament, even consulting neighboring cities who could only confirm that such circumstances were lose-lose at best. Even the real estate agent representing the sale of the property now states there are complications with the title impeding a sale, and the article mentions the house being owned by the family of Ms. Pangrac (family members own the house? Where are they?), so things look quite complicated to me, and not "simple" at all.

"Wrong" in this case is subjective. "Wrong" could be the City taking no action and then be held liable for not enforcing the building code when the roof collapses on Ms. Pangrac. "Wrong" could be the City forcibly removing Ms. Pacgrac against her wishes, until the house was fixed. "Wrong" could even mean the City taking responsibility for Ms. Pangrac by feeding, housing, and rebuilding her house on City funds, which currently are in short supply, without proper approvals.

What is "simply wrong" in this case is jumping to conclusions, and making rash statements.

Regardless of all that, if people feel this is truly wrong, the City is not the only entity that can or should help. There needs to be more help for the elderly, but the City is not the sole solution to this problem, nor is it the best one.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Huh?
a resident of another community
on Feb 23, 2010 at 9:32 pm

I agree that something needed to be done, no question about that. But footing her with the bill? Whether or not it's settled by whomever buys the property is yet to be seen.

I think what bothers me is that this city, which can afford to commision statues and other artwork in the tens of thousands of dollars, which pays retired directors hundreds of dollars per hour, which sets up a fund to assist city employees making less than 120% of the area median income to but homes, can't afford $19K to pay for a demolition that it ordered. And to an elderly person no less. That's what bothers me.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 23, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Google street view: Web Link

There is no "right" answer and it is not simple.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 24, 2010 at 12:40 am

This is far from simple. Why not a reverse mortgage to assist in the repair if she is elderly and has no money? It is a shame it went so long before it was addressed. The mistake here is that nobody reported it earlier.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dr. Collateral
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 24, 2010 at 1:14 am

Dr. Collateral is a registered user.

Dear Big Al:

Instead of rolling out another tired anti-government rant, we'd be interested to hear instead what you would have proposed doing. If your answer is "let the house fall down on top of Ms. Pangrac", that's fine, but have the guts to say it.

$20K doesn't seem out of line for a demolition job. And, far from capriciously showing up one day and bulldozing the house, it appears from the article that attempts to repair the house have been going on since last summer - about six months ago.

And I'm with Hardin on this one. "Simply wrong" is simply a wrongheaded, knee-jerk reaction to facts that suggest a more complex back-story.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tim Proschold
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 24, 2010 at 9:35 am

As you may or may not know, the City Council approved 4-2 last night to approve the lien on the property. Given some of the statements on this site, I can see that there are some split views on this issue and it was apparent at the City Council meeting last night.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by Vote
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 24, 2010 at 10:38 am

No surprise here, Inks and Abe-Koga voted against the lien. Also not surprising that Jac "we can do whatever we want" Siegel voted for.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Randy
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 24, 2010 at 10:51 am

It is not the city's responsibility (or place) to determine who is living in a safe condition. If the homeowner was fine with it and wanted to stay there then she should have been allowed to. I didn't see (in the story) any indication that the lady was mentally unbalanced and unable to care for herself so apparently the crime (note the presence of the polce) was being old and living in a crummy house... and the punishment is eviction and demolition. Makes me wonder which city council person or staffer lives in the neighborhood and perhaps felt home values were being affected...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 24, 2010 at 11:55 am

I walked by that house tons of times and it was in such disrepair that I didn't think anyone lived there. When I saw the demolition crew I thought someone had bought it and was tearing it down to build something.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 24, 2010 at 12:10 pm

"It is not the city's responsibility (or place) to determine who is living in a safe condition. If the homeowner was fine with it and wanted to stay there then she should have been allowed to. I didn't see (in the story) any indication that the lady was mentally unbalanced and unable to care for herself so apparently the crime (note the presence of the polce) was being old and living in a crummy house... and the punishment is eviction and demolition. Makes me wonder which city council person or staffer lives in the neighborhood and perhaps felt home values were being affected..."

Huh? Mountain View, and most cities in the US have a building department, that is tasked with ensuring safe construction practices and safe buildings through inspections and code enforcement. That's why we have a uniform building code, and that's why when we have an earthquake like Loma Prieta, we have deaths in the tens, and not in the hundred thousands, like they did in Haiti. If an inspector finds your structure unsafe, he/she has the authority to require sufficient repairs or tag your house as unfit to live in. The article clearly states that water damage from the damaged roof had compromised the walls of the structure, resulting to close to a quarter of a million dollars of remediation.

So aside from inferred conspiracy stories, do you have any data or evidence to support your statements?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 24, 2010 at 12:38 pm

"No surprise here, Inks and Abe-Koga voted against the lien. Also not surprising that Jac "we can do whatever we want" Siegel voted for."
--------------------

Actually, I'm not seeing much alternative to having the lien placed on the property. Here are the potential scenarios of what could have happened:

1. The City does nothing and at some point in the future, the home collapses potentially killing Ms. Pangrac in the process. The cost for repairing, rebuilding the remaining structure would be borne by the property owner, the City has no involvement with that. If the City was aware of the conditions, and did not take enforcement action that it is obligated to, a lawsuit would probably be in order.

2. The City takes action and enforces that proper construction be restored to the house, preventing occupancy until inspection confirms a safe house. Again, the cost of repairs and relocation expenses are borne by the property owner. The City has no responsibility for funding any of this.

3. What actually happened - The City takes action by declaring the house unsafe, and demolishes it to prevent further occupancy by anyone, and puts a lien on the property so that the current owners or future owners bear the cost of cleanup.

In each of these cases, the City's sole responsibility is in code enforcement, and ensuring that safe structures and construction practices are maintained within city borders. It has no responsibility for funding any of the deficiencies it finds with properties, THE PROPERTY OWNER is responsible for this.

The house is private property, not public property. That limits what the City can do. If the City were to cross that line, and begin paying for repairs or improvements on private property, it would have set a precedent that others could rightly request the City's assistance as well.

And then where do you draw the line?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Vote
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 24, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Hardin - One alternative I see is the city purchasing the property (I don't know whether the city offered to do so or not) and then demolishing the structure, saving the elderly homeowner the expense.

Afterall, the city did agree to dip into it's BMR funds to purchase a high school teacher's condo.

Web Link

A difficult situation all around. But I really would be interested in knowing whether the city considered purchasing the property.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Voice of Reason
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 24, 2010 at 2:15 pm

What is also wrong, to me, is that all of this process, gut-wrenching or otherwise, has been going on and yet we have had no knowledge of it. Why was no reporting done until after the fact?

How many more properties in Mountain View are undergoing this process unknown to us even as we speak?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PeaceLove
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 24, 2010 at 2:44 pm

I was at the City Council meeting yesterday in which the lien was authorized. 2 points that bothered me about this story:

1. Although it is not reported in the story, the elderly homeowner was apparently held for *72 hours* in a "holding cell." I was told by someone there that was in fact a jail cell. Can anyone confirm this point and explain why the homeowner was held for so long?

2. Why did the city feel the need to bulldoze the property? Is it specified in the city codes that when a building is condemned as unsafe the city will take the next step of bulldozing it at the homeowner's expense?

All told, this is a sad story. But I do agree that it is the homeowner's responsibility to maintain their property or be responsible for the consequences. Mountain View officials were put in a tough position.

As to the issue of property value, perhaps the Realtor Mr. Proschold can weigh in on the contention brought up at the Council meeting and in these comments that the property is worth more with the house demolished?

P.S. to Big Al: Please take your silly anti-Obama trolling elsewhere.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bad Choices Long Ago
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 24, 2010 at 6:05 pm

1) As a health care professional a 72-hour hold is not a 72-hour hold. I've seen subject released in one hour after being brought in by a doctor or police. They are legally required to place somoene on a hold also known as W&I 5150 if they indicated they want to hurt themselves or are unable to care for themselves.

2) If you leave the house up which is beyond repair what benefit does that do since it is unsafe. One of our homeless drunks would move into and we be back at square one.

Now I see all the compassion and effort the city took in an effort to deal with this situation. Most will say, "Well she is a senior and could not care for herself or make proper decisions." This is true but the key is proper decisions. For Ms. Pangrac the wrong decisions were made years ago when she was able to. I am not talking last year or even five years ago. How about ten or twenty years ago. Proper repair and home up kept would have prevented or delayed the fall of this house years ago.

If the house collapsed around her and fire or police personnel got hurt trying to save her then everyone would be yelling, "OH Why didn't the City do anything."

Maybe we could have sent Ideafarm over to help her. He seems very handy with that moving structure he built. By the way City...when are you going to get that off the sidewalk?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 24, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Hardin - One alternative I see is the city purchasing the property (I don't know whether the city offered to do so or not) and then demolishing the structure, saving the elderly homeowner the expense.

After all, the city did agree to dip into it's BMR funds to purchase a high school teacher's condo.

----------------

I hadn't thought of that, its certainly a possibility. A couple things I think would be considered with that option would be the following:

1. Price - $18k for the demolition, about $400k for the property, and another $300k to build a house on it would mean the City would have to spend close to $750,000 to have a usable property. That might be hard to justify with the budget woe's the City has now.

2. A willing seller - It doesn't appear that Ms. Pangrac was even willing to vacate the premise, let alone sell the property. Finding out who actually owns title might even be an issue.

Still, be interesting to know if the City considered this option.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Big Al
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 24, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Hardin, by your logic if the city creates ordinances and doesn't enforce or control them and someone dies then the city is liable. Well said. So the city has no business creating more risk for being liable by legalizing the sale of marijuana. But it will. The problem here is the city is selective in what it does. There are plenty of people living in horrid conditions in apartments, sometimes 10 or more to a one-bedroom apartment, along California Ave and the city does nothing. Okay, fine the roof is intact. But the squalor is unacceptable and the city should get involved.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by NeHi
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 24, 2010 at 8:20 pm

What we seem to have here is a lot of supposition and few facts. I would suspect that the property, now cleared, is worth a considerable sum which is larger than it was with the home upon it. Please note that the home to the north is brand spanking new.

Boranda, and to a lesser extent Bonita, has many older and very interesting houses. Many of these have already been "recycled" into large dwellings; nice but less character. Some are more visible than 913 and should also be recycled. But many are a timeline of Mnt. View and it would be a shame to lose more. Now that you have seen what can happen, consider what can be done to preserve this estimable variety.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 24, 2010 at 9:12 pm

The lot is not very big and with the required building square footage to property square footage ratio, I don't think a very big house could be built on it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by HopingToHelp
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 24, 2010 at 9:33 pm

I will contribute to a fund to help her if she needs money. Does anyone know if she is alright?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 24, 2010 at 10:04 pm

I'm interested in donating too, if someone knows of a fund. Must be pretty frightening for an elderly person to have their home and all its memories gone in a moments notice.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tim Proschold
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 25, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Loretta is doing fine right now, and the property is on the MLS and will be on the broker tour this week. It is listed at $500,000, and per the city guidelines the maximum size structure that could be built on it is approximately 1950-2025 square feet (including garage). This is based on the FAR calculation. The property is approximately 4500 square feet.

I think many people are missing a large point here. It is not so much what the property was worth, but what the demolition of the property did to her options. It basically left her with none whatsoever other than to sell because she does not have the cash to hire an engineer, apply for permits and get contractors involved without selling the land. She also has no way to obtain any sort of financing now because most available loans are tied to owner occupied 1-4 unit residential property. With vacant land, the lending landscape drastically changes. Unfortunately I did not see the property prior to demolition, and I am limited on that front. I think Council Member Inks put it best at the meeting when he discussed his code enforcement tour of the property. "If the property was so dangerous, why was I allowed to enter and view it?".

In this process the City treated Loretta as a helpless person when they decided to remove her from her home, while at the same time holding her to 10 day appeal timeframes and a complicated legal process while moving swiftly to demolish. They could have fenced the property, put up a notice to not enter the property, and left the structure standing. At least there were still some options for her with this situation, and the market could have decided if the property was worth more standing than demolished. Also she could have figured out a more orderly way of moving and storing her belongings that did not cost her $450/month in storage fees and the cost of a demolition contractor to move her stuff.

Per the city code, Loretta could have appealed the decision that her house was a public nuisance, and this would have initiated a public hearing to discuss. She did not do this because she thought the city had no right to tell her what to do. The city proceeded (as far as I know) without a public hearing on this issue, so this is the reason why none of you have heard about this issue until after the fact. Loretta was not given due process with fair representation in this matter. The city may have scheduled appointments for her to meet with a counselor, but they should have not proceeded with the demolition until after a public hearing was held and they knew for sure that she knew what was going on.

Some have mentioned the cost to the City and the taxpayer if they eat this demolition expense. Nobody has discussed the incremental benefit to the City with the forced sale of the property.

City Transfer Tax on Sale: $1,650.00
Loretta's Current Property Tax Rate = $668 per year
Future Property Tax Rate with $750,000 home = $8600/year
Differential = $7,932
Assuming 20% of funds go to City = $1,586/year

I am not saying there was any ulterior motives on behalf of the City, nor am I saying anyone at the city is a bad person and intended for this to harm Loretta. I know that all members of he City Council and staff were genuinely concerned about her safety. This is a classic case of government intervention that has a lot of unintended consequences that probably were not fully considered by moving forward.

Unfortunately the past cannot be undone, but the city can learn from this experience and make sure that proper public notice, hearings, and due process all occur before taking police action to demolish a home. Appeal periods for seniors should not apply, and all instances of the City taking property of seniors should be brought to the City Council public hearing process. This will allow the public the opportunity to help a neighbor that might be in need.

Tim


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 25, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Maybe the city can sell her that BMR condo they just bought off that teacher that was mentioned earlier. She could pay cash for no mortgage which would be good since she's probably on a fixed income.

What's the broker's cut of that $500k?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Catherine
a resident of Willowgate
on Feb 25, 2010 at 5:31 pm

If the city's in the mood to demolish things, can it please get rid of the Cottage and the old burnt-down A&W on Moffett? Thanks,


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Thom
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 26, 2010 at 11:42 am

Next time you head down California Street take a look at that great dwwelling near the corner of Shoreline and California. That's a hazard looking for disaster.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 26, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Oh A&W, how I miss you...and Wienerschnitzel too.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Daniel Waylonis
a resident of Jackson Park
on Feb 28, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Truly horrifying government meddling.

Since a trailer is disallowed by the city, perhaps a "Modern Cabana" would be allowed? The Studio model (12x25) can be purchased complete for $68k (Web Link).

And, I agree about the Cottage and burnt-out restaurant shell on Moffett being much more prominent eyesores to Mountain View.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Big Al
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 1, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Let's face it. The city had to look somewhere for the $60,000 it needs to put art work in front of the new fire station. City hall, the new and remodeled fire stations, will become the palaces of the privileged elite, decadent and paid for by the likes of Loretta and the common taxpayer. And we can all be expected to keep these so-called public servants secure in their retirement with their fat and generous packages. In the meanwhile you the homeowner will be responsible for trimming the city's trees and fighting off crime. Next thing you know, you'll be charged for 911 calls to awaken the firefighters from their slumber at night. How about having them trim the trees during their down hours?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Classic "paranoid style" rant. Web Link

The $20K lien put on this woman's property was to recoup the cost of demolition, not to pay for city artwork, "fat and generous packages" or anything else. One way or another, resale of the property (which became inevitable once the house fell into decay) would only have happened after the lot was scraped.

The city breaks even here, see? This was not a money-maker. You could argue Mrs. Pangrac was badly treated, but only a fool would claim this was part of a diabolical plot by evil government forces.

Fools are ever in abundance, however.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Big AL
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 1, 2010 at 11:57 pm

It's called satire mixed with historical irony.

Shallow ignorant readers are ever in abundance, however.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2010 at 11:04 am

Where have Loretta's two sisters been during all of this? It is very sad to read all of this and know that she has family that has not stood by her - seems that we have a greater problem in our society than the city of Mtn. View.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2010 at 11:07 am

Oh of course. Now you mention it your post is positively dripping with - what was it? - satire mixed with historical irony. I missed it the first time so let's check it out again:

"Let's face it. The city had to look somewhere for the $60,000 it needs to put art work in front of the new fire station. City hall, the new and remodeled fire stations, will become the palaces of the privileged elite, decadent and paid for by the likes of Loretta and the common taxpayer. And we can all be expected to keep these so-called public servants secure in their retirement with their fat and generous packages...."

Yes, I see it now. You can almost smell the historical irony. It goes nicely this this other bit of satire you wrote earlier: "As soon as you all realize that the government knows exactly what's best for us all, the sooner you will become more comfortable with Obamacracy. Only the government can solve our current problems. Massive government spending and massive government programs and oversight are the solution!"

You're a regular Stephen Colbert, Big Al.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Big Al
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 2, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Thanks for making my point again.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Alan R
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 2, 2010 at 9:19 pm

If we truly live in a free country, we should be allowed to stay in a dangerous house. The city has no business telling people which risks are acceptable for them to take.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by tbrookside
a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Reader,

You completely miss the point.

The bottom line here is that if the City is conducting enforcement actions, it should pay them for out of general revenues.

Billing the victims of enforcements actions for the costs of enforcement is like shooting a man with a city firing squad and then sending his widow a bill for the bullet.

This woman fought against being extracted from her home, and fought against the demolition. The city did these things against her will. The idea that they should have the right to bill her for them is insane.

It seriously is the kind of Kafkaesque bureaucratic insanity and monstrousness caricatured in Terry Gilliam's "Brazil". Which is now no longer a satire, but has been transformed by time and subsequent events into a documentary.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by crazyfish
a resident of The Crossings
on Mar 3, 2010 at 12:16 pm

This is simple Government meddling at the finest. Like Tim said, there were many ways the city could have handled the case without demolishing the house.
It was not a gut wrenching decision, it was an arrogant decision everyone feels good that they save the woman against her will from certain death. If woman wants to be killed by a falling roof, it is her property, she should be allowed that. If the city is truly concerned that the building was unsafe, it could have demanded a huge ass sign that clearly stated that the building was unsafe, enter at your own risk. Instead the city in their infinite goodness, decided what was best for the woman. To be forced at gunpoint from her home, for her supposed benefit, is an abuse of state power.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2010 at 12:20 pm

tbrookside,

I don't totally disagree with you. Mostly I disagree with incoherent and silly rightwing rantings that are totally off topic, then later explained away as "satire."

But on topic, I honestly don't know exactly what I would have done about this woman's home. Maybe I'd have taken the libertarian route and just let it fall on her - because that's what this boils down to. Either let her die and forget about it, or step in and save her, then recoup your losses.

In this light your analogy ("like shooting a man with a city firing squad and then sending his widow a bill for the bullet") is bizarre. This situation is more like stepping in front of a bullet to save a person, then sending the person you saved the bill for the bullet proof vest. (Or better yet let's try to think of a new analogy!)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Real American
a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Isn't this akin to charging rent to convicted felons for their prison accommodations?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by million
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 3, 2010 at 12:28 pm

was the foundation fine? so only stick built walls and roof for $250K? that estimate must've included Davis-Bacon prevailing wages in union-friendly Commiefornia.

no wonder you jokers are broke.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Another strange analogy. I'd say it's more like exactly what happened: they moved her to save her life, then charged her for the accommodations.

It's been asked over and over again: would you let her die, per her request, in the house? Or save her against her will and make her foot the bill? None of the people crying "government meddling" are willing to address this obvious question. Why not?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by tbrookside
a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Reader,

If you save her against her will, you should have no right to bill her for her accomodations or the demolition. You should pay for it yourself.

That's the 3rd option you seem incapable of conceiving.

If the community wishes to demonstrate how "caring" it is, and how much it wishes to "protect" this woman against her will, it should do so on the city's dime.

"We are going to demonstrate how much we care for you, by dragging you to a holding cell for psychological evaluation, knocking your house down, and then sending you a bill!" Wow, such caring. I wonder what Christmas is like at your house. Do you beat your kids with a hammer and then break open their piggy banks to buy a new one if you break it over one of their heads?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Real American
a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2010 at 12:39 pm

This is definitely government meddling, though what is most objectionable is that the city is sticking her with the tab for its choices, its actions in removing her and demolishing her house.

Sure, they could have let the house cave in on her and they would have had to clean up that mess anyway. Here, they chose to do it without letting her die (hell, if the house didn't cave in on her, she probably would have died from pneumonia), which is the humanitarian, compassionate (and politically correct) choice. Either way, they shouldn't send her the bill afterward. Fire departments don't send bills to the owners of burning homes after putting out the fires? Police don't bill crime victims after they arrest the perps (and they don't bill the perps for their time incarcerated). The bottom line is if the City is performing a public service, the public should pay for it. If it isn't a public service, then the City shouldn't be doing it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2010 at 12:51 pm

tbrookside,

You seem to have a knack for violent and stupid analogies. You're also getting nasty. I wonder if you can control yourself.

As for the 3rd option - save her life against her will, then have taxpayers foot the bill - yes, I can conceive it. Hate to think how it would go over with the anti-govmnt meddler crowd though. I can see instead the line of complaints being not that this woman is now stuck with the bill, but that THEY are.

But Real American makes the point well: "if the City is performing a public service, the public should pay for it. If it isn't a public service, then the City shouldn't be doing it." Like I say, it would just lead to a parallel but different series of complaints about arrogant city officials, etc.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jeff S.
a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2010 at 12:52 pm

The $250K estimate is a joke. For $30K of materials (and I bet much of that would've ultimately been donated), and volunteer labor, the woman's house could have quickly been put in a condition which would have made condemnation illegal.

Too many people have for too long looked to government to solve problems which are far better handled by private citizens looking out for each other. To all of you here who believe that the City had to do this to prevent the roof from falling in on her head, where were you and your ilk when it was time lend this woman a hand?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 3, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Wow, things have really taken a twist since I last visited.

I think one point that may have been missed is that a City typically isn't motivated by "caring" or doing things for individuals, but instead ensuring that it is consistently meeting its obligations as spelled out in its building codes, laws and city charter. If it looks like its being "nice" and "fuzzy", that's icing on the cake.

So, the City's main focus in this case, is in code enforcement, and ensuring that safe structures and construction practices are maintained within city borders.

And it has no responsibility for funding any of the deficiencies it finds with properties, THE PROPERTY OWNER is responsible for this.

For example, when was the last time the City paid you when a building inspector found faulty electrical wiring in your home and required you to upgrade/repair it? Its up to you, the home owner, to ensure that the property you live in meets all applicable codes, and to take whatever actions are needed to bring the house back into code compliance, not the City. The City just ENFORCES the codes, it doesn't IMPLEMENT them. And when you bought the house and signed on the dotted line, you were agreeing to abide by the building codes the City uses for enforcement.

In this particular case, where the scope of non-compliance is so huge, and the repairs so extensive, that the soundness of the home is put into question, the City can "condemn" the property, considering it not safe to be lived in by anyone. When this happens, the structure has no value, and demolition is required to prevent anyone from inhabiting the building. Putting up a big warning sign won't prevent a transient, or even a stubborn owner, from entering the premises. And just like the above example, its the home owner that bears the cost of ensuring compliance to current code, so the owner pays for the demolition.

Circumstances in this case, make the implementation of the law seem heartless and heart breaking, but nevertheless, its legal.

Here's the acid test for this: What if the property owner wasn't a little old woman, but Bill Gates? Would it be right then for the City to pay for the demolition?

I would be surprised to see a lawsuit resulting from this, I don't think there's a lot of legal standing for the plantiff.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jeff S.
a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2010 at 5:29 pm

"...the structure has no value, and demolition is required to prevent anyone from inhabiting the building."

Not true at all.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anyfish
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2010 at 1:48 pm

> The City just ENFORCES the codes, it doesn't IMPLEMENT them.

Actually, ENFORCMENT _IS_ IMPLEMENTATION.

And who does pay the building code inspector for the inspection? The City or the property owner? Does the City order an electrictian (which incidently is the most expensive one in town) to fix that faulty wiring on your dime?

> And when you bought the house and signed on the dotted line, you were agreeing to abide by the building codes the City uses for enforcement.

Was the City an stated party of the agreement between the seller and the buyer?
Was those building code juties stated or reffered in that agreement?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Richard M Stallman
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Perhaps it is true that Ms Pangrac might have been killed by collapse
of part of her house, and then the city could have been sued. But she
is not out of danger now. If she cannot afford another place to live,
she could die from sleeping under no roof at all. But the city would
not be liable if she dies that way. Thus, the city has not protected
her, only itself.

A house which is dangerous to live in is a real problem. If it could
not be repaired, it would have to be demolished some day. But that
did not have to be now. Surely some temporary makeshift could have
made it safe enough for Ms Pangrac to continue living there for her
remaining years.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by kaliphamolema
a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2010 at 9:16 am

Good Day
i was in my search of a nice beutiful house or apartment like this one and i saw your house you have on the market for sale . so please i am very interested in buying this house if you are still selling it so i can come and get a look at the house . so please kindly tell me if the house is still for sale . i am looking forward to read or hear from you call me as fast as possible .
Thanks email me at kaliphamolema@hotmail.com



Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Grab a Bowl of Heaven soon in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 2,508 views

Quick Check List for UC Applications
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 1,765 views

Don't fund the rape culture at my alma mater
By Jessica T | 16 comments | 1,272 views

Palo Alto and Bay Area Election Facts and Thoughts on the Implications
By Steve Levy | 13 comments | 1,256 views

Fancy Fast and Fun!
By Laura Stec | 3 comments | 1,082 views