The San Diego City Council passed an “abatement of abandoned properties” ordinance unanimously on October 2. It makes abandoned properties (structures and empty lots) subject to the same city code sections regulating vacant properties.
Vacant properties are unoccupied but are available for lease or sale. Abandoned properties usually involve “code or public nuisance violations” and many are “boarded” up.
With passage of the ordinance, buildings such as the long-empty Pernicano's and Casa di Baffi restaurants will have to be cleaned up. The former eateries — on Sixth Avenue between University and Robinson avenues — closed more than 25 years ago and remain empty and vandalized. The site is owned by George Pernicano, who also owns 3 percent of the Chargers.
The new ordinance states that “Vacant structures which are boarded or are located on properties with code and public nuisance violations are a blight and cause deterioration and instability in neighborhoods.”
Owners will be required to remove litter, waste, and graffiti, post “no trespassing” signs on the property, and file a “statement of intent” with the city. Fines for continued code and nuisance violations would start at $500 per property, up to a maximum of $5000 per year.
I talked to Alan Bilmes, co-owner of City Delicatessen at 535 University Avenue, adjacent to the Pernicano-owned property. “We want to see redevelopment of the site, especially a hotel,” said Bilmes. He said the rundown property “hurts our business.” He added that vermin live in the building and “aggressive panhandlers” hang out in front of the old Casa di Baffi, which has its entrance on Fifth Avenue.
Luke Terpstra, chairman of the Hillcrest Town Council, said via email: “The Hillcrest Town Council is pleased with this new ordinance. Properties can sit in ruin or decay, looking horrible for the neighborhood and causing all sorts of problems. Just because the owners or property managers or lenders are not ready to deal with it, it does not mean that the neighbors have to look at it.”
Realtor Stanley Paul Cook represents the Pernicano family regarding this property. Cook emailed a year ago: “At this time the family is dealing with some significant health care issues and everything is on hold...with two parents in their mid 90s there are real challenges almost every day.”
Cook did not respond to a new request for comment.