After the clubhouse fire in October 2015, not much has been done with it. It was partially demolished as ordered by the fire marshall and was considered a crime scene until October 2016. Last November, the arsonist pled guilty and was sentenced in February 2017.
Due to the investigation, the city was unable to proceed with enforcing municipal codes against the building despite many pleas from the community. Now that the building is released as a crime scene, the city reached out to the owner citing the clubhouse as a nuisance and requiring him to amend the violations.
Although the city initiated contact with the property owner, the absentee owners have been unresponsive. When a nuisance has not subsided following the notice of violation, the city may take the issue into their own hands. Staff sent a certified letter to the property owner on Jan. 24, 2017 and then a second one on Feb. 7 identifying the city’s intent to seek injunctive relief if the owners did not contact staff or correct the code violations by March 13. Even as of March 27, the city had still received no response.
Since the property owners have made absolutely no effort to make contact with the city, it has the right to petition the court for the injunctive relief to abate the nuisance. In this particular agenda item, city staff asked the council to direct the city manager to petition the appropriate court for injunctive and declaratory relief to abate the nuisance and if so, to what extent.
City staff offered three scenarios for what the city could do with the D’Andrea clubhouse once it petitions the court:
Scenario A: At the very minimum effort, the city could spend up to $63,500 to remove debris and secure the building.
Scenario B: However, this effort would further secure the building with backfill and metal doors in the basement area which house the golf carts. The substantial amount of required labor and backfill are expected to cost an additional $27,000, bringing the total to $90,500.
Scenario C: This is a proposal to completely demolish the building and restore it to a graded pad for future development. Total demolition of the entire structure would cost around $253,000. Since the city has put aside about $100,000 for this project, total demolition would require the city to secure additional fund and go out to bid for the project.
“It’s been over a year and a half since the fire occurred, action is needed,” says a D’Andrea HOA Board member in the meeting’s first public comment period. “I encourage the city to take all action necessary to clean up the clubhouse,” he added.
In a lengthy discussion, city council members discussed the liability issues that Sparks would incur by taking on the clubhouse. Council member Ed Lawson was originally hesitant to move forward on this property believing that the liability was too great.
However, with no response or action on the clubhouse, the city could hold some liability although it is doing the best it can to keep the clubhouse roped off. City Attorney Chet Adams stated that the letters they have sent to the owners have helped, but there has been no timeline for improvement.
“Only today has the council started to hear back from the owners. In my experience, getting a petition filed usually helps bring parties together to work it out,” says Adams.
Adams added that a lien on the property with it being under litigation may convince the owners to take action.
In its second public comment period, D’Andrea resident Joe Canale said, “The owner has been served numerous notices on weed abatement, nuisance, and he owes quite a few people thousands of dollars in bills. Why can’t the city take it over in eminent domain?”
Next to speak was Steve Trollope, another D‘Andrea resident who has been under contract since August 2016 to purchase the property from the current owners and restore it into a vibrant golf, performing arts, and events community under the name D‘Andrea Rising.
“I certainly applaud your efforts, but you should get your lawyers on this because you don’t want to buy a lawsuit as well,” says Adams. “If you purchase the property, you may have to take care of the problem.” Trollope responded by saying that in its contract with the current owners, they would have to fix the problems before the deal goes through.
City councilman Ron Smith said that Trollope’s pending contract with D‘Andrea owners could not be taken under consideration as anything can happen with the sale of the property. Trollope asked the council to keep in mind that in the proposed Scenario C, a total demolition may strip away utilities needed for possible future development.
Although it was undecided to what extent the city is willing to take the abatement, they did decide in a 4-0 to allow staff to file a petition. City Council member Charlene Bybee abstained from voting due to her relationship with Randi Thompson (Steve Trollope’s partner in D‘Andrea Rising and Bybee’s previous campaign manager when she ran for City Council).
“Let’s move it through the court system. There are a lot of moving pieces on this and we are dealing with a person who has not lived up to any of his commitments to us,” says Councilman Lawson.