By Kent Miller
Midway Driller staff writer
Four derelict properties in Ford City are a major step closer to being abated
At their afternoon session Tuesday, Kern County’s Board of Supervisors voted 4-0, with 3rd District Supervisor Mike Maggard absent, to declare one property on Adams Street and three properties on Madison Street  public nuisances.
The supervisors’ votes declared the properties abandoned and dangerous and ordered abatement involving the demolition of the structures.
One property, an apartment building at 424 Adams St., has tenants.
“Thank God for considering this property,” said Taft City Councilmember Dave Noerr, who spoke at the public hearing on the Adams Street property as a resident of the Taft area, not as a councilmember.
“This is Third World living conditions,” he said. “The tenants have been taken advantage of. There are law enforcement issues for Taft Police Department and for Sheriff’s deputies.
“(The property) doesn’t meet codes. Subsidence (of the structure) has created problems. Raw sewage collects there. There is no way to mediate these issues with what the entire area is worth.”
Charles Lackey, county director of building inspection, presented the staff report on the four-plex property.
“There are on-going violations,” Lackey said. “It’s a substandard property ... (with a) three-and-one-half-foot settlement on one side. There are breaks in the water and sewer lines with the settlement.
“The building is continuing to settle and create problems. There has been no owner response.”
Lackey asked the board to order demolition of the structure, with the owner given 30 days to abate the nuisance or county staff will seek bids for abatement, he said. Estimated cost of demolition is about $30,000, according to staff.
Former owner Pablo Alvarez, who said he sold the property to his mother, claimed that there are no problems with the water, sewer or gas lines.
“It has been rented for over 10 years,” Alvarez said. “There are no pipe breaks. I don’t see it as unhealthy or unsafe.
“The only problem is when it rains. The sewer line in the street is clogged and there’s no way for the water to get into the sewer.”
Lackey and 4th District Supervisor David Couch strongly disagreed with Alvarez.
“I have personally seen sewage there,” Lackey said. “There is three-and-a-half-feet of settlement.”
Couch stated: “I have seen this property. Noerr said it pretty well. No one should be required to live in that way.
“I refer to the CAO (Chief Administrative Officer John Nilon) on how to handle the tenants. Make sure the tenants are taken care of.”
Fifth District Supervisor Leticia Perez asked if there is a fund that would aid the tenants. She was told by staff that there is funding for emergency housing but not on-going housing. However the property owner might have to pay relocation benefits to the tenants, staff reported.
While a hearing was held on the Adams Street property, no one appeared on the Madison Street structures and all three – at 114, 303 and 306 Madison St. – were declared public nuisances and ordered for demolition as part of the consent agenda vote.
Abatement costs are estimated at $15,000 each for 114 and 303 Madison and $30,000 for 306 Madison.
The county will pay the estimated $90,000 for the demolitions of the four structures and bill the property owners. If they don’t pay, liens will be put on the properties which must be paid before they can be sold.