Codes officials visited 'vacant' home more than 100 times

Codes officials visited 'vacant'  home more than 100 times »Play Video

YAKIMA, Wash. -- The home that caught fire last week on North 5th Avenue was supposed to be abandoned. City officials told Action News it has been a problem for years.

But neighbors say nothing has been done to stop squatters, drug deals and now fires from happening.

The illegal neighbors have been a problem here for more than a decade.

Code enforcement officers alone have visited the property more than 100 times. That doesn't include the times police have responded to trespassing calls or fire department emergencies.

But the home isn't the only one taxing the city's resources. The back house on the same lot caught fire just a couple years ago.

"Why does the city put up with it? Why does the city not say, 'Why don't we tear it down?" KIMA asked.

"Well you just can't tear a house down unless it's structurally compromised," said Joe Caruso, Yakima codes administration manager.

The city plans to make that decision this week.

The owner has nearly $5,000 in city liens and has gone more than two years without paying property taxes.

After three years, the city can step in to sell the property. That is something neighbors want to see.

"If he can't afford to do something with it, he should let the city take over. Because it's a danger, it's a danger," said neighbor Ninfa Vargas.

Yakima has set up a review board hearing to evaluate the case. The property owner has been fined two thousand dollars plus contractor fees. The city would consider condemning the building if code enforcement presents a strong enough case against the home.