Patch Watch: Is Los Gatos Home on Bachman Avenue Blight?

Residents who live near 256 Bachman Ave. residence say due to town's lack of a blight ordinance, property has sat empty and in disarray for seven years.

"Why doesn't Los Gatos have a blight ordinance?" complains a longtime Los Gatos resident who lives near a home on quiet and tranquil Bachman Avenue that he says has become an "eyesore."

Located at 256 Bachman Ave., the man says the home has been in disrepair for at least 10 years and is in a state of decay.

It was an award winning Bellringer home in 1978, he noted, adding that it's now vacant and has been for empty for more than seven years.

Los Gatos Patch visited the property on Monday and indeed found the residence empty, a screen falling out of one of its first-floor windows, a staircase not completed, pieces of wood piled up near the main door and in the back back, unpainted exterior wood walls.

Neighbors on Bachman Avenue say the owner recently decided to do some restoration work on it by replacing rotting wood and preparing it for a new paint job.

They had almost completed the work when someone complained to the town about the work, they said. Town officials ordered him to cease until he had appropriate permits, they explained.

"Well, we neighbors have been waiting a very long time for this home to be restored and now because of one complaint, all work has ceased. Of course, the town will not tell us who complained, or for what reason," the resident said.

Now the neighborhood is saying it all goes back to the town lacking a blight ordinance to prevent this from happening.

"If the town had a blight ordinance this would effectively keep our neighborhoods presentable," the man stated. 

The only way that the town can enforce repairs is if the property presents a health or safety hazard, they further complained.

"Seems odd that a town like Los Gatos does not care what state a property is in, but jumps at the chance to make money on permits," he lamented.

LOCATION: 256 Bachman Ave.

PROBLEM: Abandoned, unfinished home.




Richard Katz February 26, 2013 at 04:51 PM
The owner is truly trying to make improvements on the property and the neighbors are thrilled. It is such a shame that someone had to stop this progress that has been so long over due. The fact that the owner is now committed to restoring the property makes this all the more frustrating because of permits. I spoke with the town and they won't even allow him to remove all of the debris because they state that it is proof of the work that has been going on even though the debris attracts rats. We are all hoping for a quick resolution to this.
KMD February 26, 2013 at 05:54 PM
I'm with you on this Richard. This is an opportunity for the town council and the good people of Los Gatos to help a fellow citizen out. Clearly the person does not have the means to repair the home or would have done so years ago. Surely the Tony Jeans' of the town can come together and donate their services for such an important cause. Neighbors have a vested interest in seeing the home repairs happen and might want to consider pitching in too. Perhaps the owner can work out a deal when he/she sells the property to reimburse a percentage of the costs to anyone willing to help him/her. It is a win win for everyone to have the community come together.. The owner, neighbors, town, along with an act of goodwill and free advertisement from well to do contractors and architects will benefit from making it happen. : )
a. austin February 26, 2013 at 06:12 PM
Make permits for health, safety and blight improvement cheaper and easier for home owners to obtain.
KMD February 26, 2013 at 08:25 PM
That, too, would be most helpful. Maybe we should all contact our town council.
Bob Rosenthal February 26, 2013 at 09:08 PM
It's a shame that the homeowner has been stopped from restoring what could be a beautiful home. I'm sure that the complainers would be more than happy to see the place torn down and replaced with another McMansion. Granted, the place hasn't had anything done to it for a number of years, but at least something is being done now. I live a half block away and it doesn't offend me in the least. Give the guy a chance.
Chuck Page February 26, 2013 at 10:28 PM
During my first term as mayor in Saratoga in 2009, I sought to tackle the issue of blight - every neighborhood has at least one home that detracts from the rest. We did implement a blight ordinance and what I've learned is that it is a long, arduous and expensive legal process to declare a home as a "blight" and have the city enter onto the property and do repairs. When the ordinance passed (5-0) I advised neighbors that before complaining to the city about a "blighted" home, attempt to find out what the problem is, and then see if you can't come together to improve the property as a group. I like the idea of lowering the cost of the permits, or maybe even providing them at no cost if the neighbors are going to help fix the house up. The only caviat with that scenario is that the cost of city staff has to come from somewhere, so don't be surprised to see permit fees go up slightly to cover that cost (inspections, planners time, etc.).
Mckenna Smith February 26, 2013 at 11:50 PM
This doesn't make any sense.. someone is trying to improve the house and the town decides to stop the work!!??? How frustrating!
MichaelJ February 27, 2013 at 01:37 AM
LG is a beautiful town with a majority of well kept homes, however, if you look you'll find graffiti, garbage, weeds and blight that require cleanup that can't be enforced W/O an ordinance. Time for the council to act & I volunteer to serve on the blight ordinance committee.
Lynne Bryant, CS February 28, 2013 at 01:09 AM
This house has so much potential. I hope there is some way to redeem it.


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