EL CENTRO — Dayout Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) Asset Manager Tony Machado addressed the El Centro City Council at its regular meeting Tuesday, February 16, to discuss ongoing issues with the vacant building next door to the current facility.
The facility is located downtown at 757 West Main Street and, according to Machado, neighbors a vacant building at 759 West Main Street. He said the property owner is “absent.” Because of the vacant building, Machado said there have been several issues with transients and homeless individuals in and around the building.
At least four incidents of transients starting warming fires inside the building have occurred since January 20. Machado said he has made numerous attempts since 2018 to correspond with the Council and with the property owner regarding the issue.
He has concerns for the smoke penetrating into the building, the safety of his staff as they work to serve the elderly community members, and potential risk of fire as recently witnessed at the Mayan Hotel property.
City Planning Director Normal Villacana informed Machado that a notice to abate has been sent to the property owner and his attorney, where they were given a list of requirements and a deadline — which is approximately 7-10 days — to address the issues listed.
According to Villacana, the property owner’s attorney informed he currently has projects out to bid for local contractors to do the work that is being asked of him by the City.
She said the building is expected to be secured so that no one can go in unless authorized. The building’s current fencing is a chain link fence that is easy to break and enter, and the property owner has been instructed to construct something stronger.
“We’re not going to tell him how to do it, but he assured it was going to get done … Obviously, we’re going to follow up within our deadlines and we’ll stay on top of this,” said Villacana.
Mayor Cheryl Viegas-Walker said, “Mrs. Villacana, no one should have to live next door to something like this. So, as we get the message out to others that this council has a zero-tolerance for this kind of land ownership, how best can the public bring to the City’s attention, a need to take action or that there’s an issue with an adjacent property owner?”
Villacana responded, saying the City has a very active code enforcement staff. She requested for community members experiencing the aforementioned issues to call and notify the staff at (760) 337-4266.
“It would be easier to handle the problem before it gets to the point that it is just too out of control,” said Villacana.