'Rancho Relaxo' loses in court, property up for auction

The home on La Jolla Hermosa has been an eyesore in the neighborhood. Photo: Courtesy
The home on La Jolla Hermosa has been an eyesore in the neighborhood. Photo: Courtesy

By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

It’s decidedly less laid back at “Rancho Relaxo.”

Last week neighbors won a sizable legal judgment against the Bird Rock “nuisance” residence. On top of that, the county will put the house up for public auction in March if the owner does not pay up on an overdue property tax bill.

“The total judgment was $136,000, the largest Safe Streets judgment since 1995 when the program began in the city of San Diego,” said Leo Wilson, director of Safe Streets Now: San Diego, a county-sponsored program helping residents clean up their neighborhoods by allowing them to file joint petitions seeking legal relief against nuisance properties in small-claims actions. The maximum reward per individual in a small-claims action is $7,500.

The Bird Rock community — 18 plaintiffs in all — worked with Wilson, First District Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price and a host of other government agencies to build a case against the “nuisance” residence at 5460 La Jolla Hermosa. Neighbors amassed a laundry list of complaints against a revolving door of tenants on the 900-square-foot, single-family residence, whose landlord, they claim, has been operating for years as a lodging/rooming house in likely violation of the San Diego Municipal Code.

Their nuisance lawsuit was heard in Small Claims Court Jan. 31.

John Weil, chief of staff for Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, said the homeowner, Blakely Nan M. Trust, has until March 18, the day of the public auction sale, to come up with back taxes owed or lose the property.

“The amount of back taxes to redeem is $5,997.14, which includes defaulted taxes, penalties and cost of sale,” said Weil, who added the property’s first installment of $889.74 on this year’s tax bill is also delinquent and will need to be paid.

“They have until the day of the auction to present the check; otherwise the property will be sold for tax proceeds and the winning bidder owns the property,” added Weil.

Weil noted the starting bid for the house and lot, located in a prime La Jolla neighborhood, will be $37,000. “Typically, the price of such homes escalates dramatically and should go up very quickly,” he said.

In testimony presented in court, police noted the property is a commune-style environment and that police raids revealed a total of 11 people had been living on the premises at one time. There is a history of neighborhood complaints on the property going back more than a decade.

A San Diego Police Department raid on there on Jan. 14, 2011, resulted in three arrests. One individual was charged with felony possession for sale of several narcotic substances including methamphetamine.  Two other individuals were arrested for parole violations.

A letter from City Attorney Jan Goldsmith to the court noted the presence of “known convicts and drug users” loitering and staying overnight on the subject property.

The March 18 public auction where the 5460 La Jolla Hermosa property will be offered for sale starts at 9 a.m. at San Diego Convention Center, Ballroom 6A.



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