Citrus Heights neighbors complain about 'zombie house'

CITRUS HEIGHTS, Calif. - Neighbors of a house abandoned by its owners and unclaimed by the bank are demanding the city step in to remove transients and drug users who've moved in.

"The house has become a flop house, a drug house," said Lambert Mills, who manages the property next door. "It's become a public nuisance. Yet the city of Citrus Heights hasn't done one thing to correct that."

The owner who purchased the house at 8333 Villaview Drive in 2004 is still on the deed, but neighbors say he moved out long ago.

Property records show the lender, which was owed $347,000, initiated default proceedings in 2009 but never followed through with a trustee's sale, leading to a situation commonly described as a "zombie" foreclosure.

Tax records indicate somebody paid the first installment of the 2013-2014 property taxes in December and a crew mowed the front lawn Thursday morning, but there are no other obvious signs that anyone cares about the house.

A front bedroom window is shattered and graffiti on the bedroom wall proclaims "crank is real." Kitchen appliances have been stripped and what appears to be a load-bearing interior wall removed.

Neighbors say they keep locking the front door and somebody keeps unlocking it.

"There's always police cars or people fighting and yelling and kind of crazy things going on all the time," said Addie Little, who lives in the neighboring house managed by Mills.

A sign on a front window posted Feb. 24 by Citrus Heights chief building official Greg Anderson declares the building unsafe and warns against entry.

Anderson did not immediately respond to telephone and email inquiries from News10 asking why no additional steps have been taken to secure the property.

Update April 4, 2014: Citrus Heights police Sgt. Dave Moranz, who supervises code enforcement, said the last police calls for service and last contact with anybody in the house was Feb. 10.

Moranz said the lender has taken possession of the house and has hired a management company to begin rehabilitating the property, but because the house was not properly secured, the city would board it up immediately.

Mills, who would like to see the house knocked down -- or at least boarded up, filed a lawsuit Monday against the city seeking $100,000 in damages. That's the amount he believes the house he manages next door has lost in value as a result of the city's inaction.

"I really don't want anything out of it other than the people of Citrus Heights to be protected by the building department," Mills said. "That's not asking very much."


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