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Neighbor does slow burn over house

Months after a fire, owners of damaged home get a demolition permit.

August 05, 2011|By Mark Kellam, mark.kellam@latimes.com
  • House on the 300 block of Brockmont Drive in Glendale on Thursday, August 4, 2011. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
House on the 300 block of Brockmont Drive in Glendale on…

It’s been an eyesore for more than eight months, but it now appears that a burned-out house on Brockmont Drive soon may be demolished.

The house at 318 Brockmont was gutted by a fire on Nov. 27, 2010. Since then, a neighbor has reported seeing several kids — and even coyotes — hanging out in the vacant shell of a structure. Neighbors also are concerned about mosquito swarms caused by a stagnant pool, and about how the damaged structure is impacting home values in the neighborhood.

Glendale building and safety officials have been working with the owners — Brett and Lisa van den Berg — to have the house demolished, but the process has been slow. In May, the case was transferred to the city attorney’s office, and Deputy City Atty. Yvette Neukian has been working with the owners to move the demolition forward.

Lisa van den Berg, contacted at her office in Chino Thursday, referred questions to her attorney, David Dorenfeld, who said the couple has been in “protracted negotiations” with their bank, hampering work on the house.

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He declined to discuss the issue further without consent from the van den Bergs.

The van den Bergs applied for the permit last month, but the city requires a 15-day waiting period to make sure no one contests the demolition.

A demolition permit was pulled Friday, according to city officials.

But it’s been a long journey to get to this point. After the fire, Terry Molloy, whose house is only a few yards from the gutted home, said he was concerned how he might be impacted by the demolition and re-building of a new structure.

After a couple of attempts to contact the city, Molloy was notified that the owners had two years from the date of the fire to obtain a building permit if they planned to construct a home that was “substantially” similar to the previous structure.

Molloy also complained to city officials that water in the pool was “creating a significant amount of bugs and mosquitoes.”


Becoming increasingly frustrated, Molloy sent an email to the city on July 14.

“Our bedroom window is very close (8-10 yards) to the end of that pool and we can see the mosquito swarms,” he said in the email.

“The fact that this is an eyesore, generates a stench and has significantly deteriorated the value of my home and our block is definitely alarming,” Molloy stated in his e-mail. “But it is really secondary to the safety hazard it presents.”

City code enforcement officials asked the van den Bergs to drain their pool. The van den Bergs said they would pay the city to empty the pool for them, said Sam Engel, neighborhood services administrator.

Building Official Stuart Tom, who acknowledged his department doesn’t usually handle fire-damaged houses, said his department’s top day-to-day priority is construction and development issues.

City officials recently decided that all incidents involving fire-damaged houses would now go to the Neighborhood Services division, which handles code enforcement.

In the meantime, Molloy has been watching the house slowly fall apart.

“A gutter fell off the other day,” he said.
 
 

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