March 11: “Another one bites the dust” remarked one excited resident, marking the fifth hazardous structure to be demolished in Mojave since November. The trailer was demolished by Sturgeon Services in Bakersfield, as part of a recent push by Kern County Code Compliance to remove derelict structures and raise housing standards in Mojave. This trailer was one of the most inviting structures for vagrants and drug users in Mojave, conveniently hidden behind trees and completely wide open and inundated with trash and drug paraphernalia. The adjacent utility shack will be torn down in the next several days or weeks, and the next door trailer will be boarded up and secured, ensuring that this property will no longer be a sanctuary for drugs and crime in our community.
Removing these derelict structures from our streets is the first step to changing the unsightly image of Mojave, and creates the necessary space to allow the community to have a serious discussion about community development. These trailers were the first thing visitors saw when entering the Mojave Air & Space Port on Belshaw Avenue, and now the drive into the airport is a little less foreboding. The Mojave Foundation is proud to contribute to the organization and coordination with Code Compliance to remove these hazardous structures, and we look forward to serious discussions with housing developers to bring clean, quality housing to working-class families downtown.
March 7: Another derelict house came down on the 15700 block of L Street today, the fourth structure to be removed in three months. Another hazardous structure on L Street will be demolished on Monday, and another two houses on K Street in the next several weeks and months. The houses were demolished by Sturgeon Services, a Bakersfield contractor hired by Kern County Code Compliance. Code Compliance has also cleaned and boarded up eight houses since September – on K Street, L Street, M Street, and Mojave Gardens. These buildings are a magnet for drugs and crime, and depress property values in our most vulnerable areas. Demolishing and securing these structures creates space for economic development to take root, and is critical to the future revitalization of this community. The Mojave Foundation is proud to help coordinate and prioritize the county’s demolition and cleanup efforts, and looks forward to raising housing standards in Mojave.
December 9: After three months of notices and hearings and missed deadlines, Kern County Code Compliance broke ground on a series of demolitions, starting with these hazardous structures on L Street and M Street, which have been abandoned for over 15 years! “I can’t believe it’s finally coming down” exclaimed a neighbor, happy to see this building go. “Maybe now we can start to clean up this block.” These abandoned structures tend to be one of the biggest sources of drugs and crime in Mojave, and can be extremely dangerous for children and neighbors. This house on the 15800 block of L Street (pictured above) is the first of four structures to be demolished in the next several weeks, including another house on the 15700 block of L Street and the fallen-down garage removed from the 15900 block of M Street (pictured below). The Mojave Foundation works closely with Kern County Code Compliance officials to prioritize buildings for cleaning and demolition, and we applaud the recent flurry of activity.
We encourage property owners to sell their vacant hazardous homes before Code Compliance gets involved. It costs on average $15,000 for the county to demolish a house in Mojave – mostly due to “prevailing wage” mandates and administrative time. If the property owner decides to walk away from the property, the fines and taxes get assigned to the property in the form a lien, which then discourages future development. The Mojave Foundation would much prefer to work with property owners to resolve safety issues quicker and cheaper than what the county can do it for, and to transition the property to responsible owners. Using local volunteers and contractors property owners can expect to pay about $5,000 on average to demolish a structure, and they can usually make a lot more than that when they sell the property to a local buyer. This demolition and transition is a critical part of our strategy to restore the health and vibrance of this community.
Mojave Foundation participated in a code compliance drive on June 29th to identify, document and record the most egregious housing & safety hazards in our downtown area. Already we have seen property owners are making improvements, and we commend those efforts. We will continue to educate homeowners and residents as to housing standards in Kern County, in an effort to raise expectations here in Mojave. Click here for a copy of the most up to date list of housing and codes & ordinances.
The drive on June 29th would not have been possible if it weren’t for the support of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, who provided 2 deputies to the effort; and the support of Michele Gardner, who participated in Saturday’s drive. The Mojave Foundation would like to thank KCSO and Gardner Realty for their professionalism and continued investment in the community.