‘Unsafe to occupy’: Apartments condemned due to mold
After local government officials discovered worsening problems with mold, cockroaches and collapsing ceilings, a two-story apartment building on Ski Run Boulevard was condemned for substandard conditions.
All Bart’s Tahoe tenants were evacuated and relocated from 15 units, South Lake Tahoe Building Inspector Bill Potts said Tuesday, while surveying the damage with the El Dorado County Health Department.
In some of the upstairs units, tenants were forced to put out several buckets and dump the collected water seeping in from a severely damaged roof.
Roofers have been working on it, but structural damage may require more than the $60,000 already expected to go into the repairs.
“That’s just a drop in the bucket. This is what happens when the roof goes too far (in disrepair). Keep in mind: We consider what’s there now and what’s evolving to,” Potts said. The city began to inspect the apartments in November and wrapped up the condemnation last Thursday.
“We felt it was best to get everybody out,” Potts said.
The notices claiming the units are “unsafe to occupy” blanketed the exterior walls. The interior has multiple problems, including mold lining some walls and ceilings as well as a cockroach infestation.
“You open a closet door, and they jump out at you,” said Jean Beemer, who works under the Safe and Healthy Housing program.
Beemer helped the tenants move through a state law that requires the property owner pay for their relocations when the multi-family dwellings are considered so extensively uninhabitable from the damage. The rent at Bart’s Tahoe ranged from $500 for a studio to $750 for a 2-bedroom unit.
Beemer said most residents such as the Lopez family in Apartment No. 7 live in “a better place but more expensive.”
The bathroom ceiling had collapsed with “water intrusion profoundly evidenced on the second floor,” building inspector Ron Ticknor wrote in a letter dated June 15 to Vernice Zanco, the property owner from Veradale, Wash. El Dorado County Assistant District Attorney Hans Uthe was copied on the letter.
In the letter, city inspectors reported Orkin Pest Control indicated “that cockroach infestation is now so pervasive that eradication is no longer possible without major demolition of the dwelling units.”
Zanco told the Tahoe Daily Tribune she plans “to do what is needed” to get the building up to par. She hired AAA Roofing and intends to gut rooms, paint and call the exterminator. She couldn’t estimate how much the renovation would cost.
“We’ve had them spray in the last five years. But I think they sprayed half the building. I guess people moving in and out bring cockroaches,” she said.
Tamarack Realty managed the apartment building for Zanco, who recently replaced the company with an individual to live on site in another, smaller building at the complex deemed OK.
“It shouldn’t have gotten this way,” Zanco said.
The neighbors would agree.
Jerry Birdwell, who co-owns the Black Bear Inn located on side of Bart’s Tahoe, said he’s pleased the building is vacated and that there are plans in the works to be upgraded. Birdwell has lamented about the apartment building with the city because of its living standards and lack of management.
The city must oversee the conditions of 774 units within 23 complexes subject to multi-family housing codes. Bart’s Tahoe’s 15 units represent the only condemned housing in the city at this time.
The city Building Department estimated about half of the apartments in town have been found to have minor issues including broken dead-bolt locks on the doors, torn carpet and expired smoke detector batteries.
Citywide, there are 136 units in 10 complexes that have been inspected and received full annual certificates of compliance.