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Corte Madera Neighbors At Odds With Each Other

The Town Council is forced to step in when neighbors are fed up with a public nuisance on Chapman Drive.

Neighbors at odds with each other went to Corte Madera Town Hall on Nov. 20 for the Town Council to solve their grievances.

Arthur Young said he believes he's been a good neighbor since he bought his house 35 years ago. His neighbors on Chapman Drive called him "delusional" and a "liar" under their breath as he spoke to the Town Council.

Corte Madera Town officials have received written complaints from Young's neighbors for the past 15 years, according to Planing Director Dan Bell, about the condition of the property on 231 Chapman. Neighbors called it a nuisance and a hazard. The Town Council agreed it violates the Public Nuisance Ordinance and are prepared to order Young to make repairs to the house and yard. If that doesn't get done quickly, the Town will step in.

Councilman Michael Lappert had some tough love for Young. Lappert said Young has a problem and hinted he should seek psychiatric help, but also offered to help Young himself.

"The problem is that this will be cleaned up. Whether it's on your time frame or not is of no importance to me. This will be cleaned up. What's been presented to us is an unsightly, disgusting mess," Lappert said. "You are dealing with what is a common problem … hoarding is a common problem (and) you obviously have a severe case of it. … You're basically driving yourself out of your own home. I'd be happy personally, me personally to you, to help you get someplace where you can deal with this so you can come to terms with this illness you have. This is not debilitating. You're still mobile, still strong. But when you're in your 80s, this is going to kill you and I don't want to see that happen."

The property, in need of repair and care, could be a reflection of Young himself, who described his declining health and mounting financial burden.

"I don't have any (expletive) money. I'm living on Social Security, which pays about 2/3 of my mortgage, which is in foreclosure. … I've been putting off a hernia operation that I need," Young told the Town Council.

Photos of the property showed one car parked on the street with a tarp over it and another car in the driveway, both in need of repair according to Young, who waid he was trying to get rid of at least one of the cars. Bushes in the front yard are crowding the public sidewalk. Neighbors complained about the wooden barrel planters on Young's front deck and his use of a laundry line, visible from the street. Photos of the backyard showed brambles and weeds growing through what some might call a junk pile.

Mayor Bob Ravasio said Young's property meets every definition of a public nuisance as described in the Town ordinance, but he also indicated the condition of the property shows a lack of respect and concern for the neighbors. Ravasio was concerned the junk in the backyard could encourage rodents and other creatures to nest there, causing a potential health hazard.

"You're now in (the Town Council's) hands and we'll try to help you through what we do with the ordinance," Lappert said. "I don't believe you're going to clean this up. I believe you want to, but I don't believe you're going to get to it in time. I get the feeling we're going to be sending dumpsters and trucks up there."

The Town, if it cleans up the property, will likely place a special lien on the property in order to recoup any expenses.

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GAFlynn November 28, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Is councilman Lappert a psychiatrist? What happened to neighbors helping neighbors?-perhaps Mr. Young has rebuffed offers of help and it has come to this--too bad for all concerned.
linda v. November 28, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Thank goodness the town has stepped in to a terrible eyesore and danger for all that live nearby due to rodents and fire. Has anyone been inside?....I cringe at the thought.
Tracy November 28, 2012 at 05:42 PM
It's a shame that this issue had to go before the town council. Hopefully Mr. Young can get the help he needs.
Ian November 28, 2012 at 06:16 PM
A laundry line is a public nuisance?
SYT November 29, 2012 at 05:08 PM
You have a lot of plants and vegetation and you're considered an eyesore? What? You can only live in Marin if you're paying a landscaper $500.00 a month to maintain your yard? I don't see heaping of garbage or abandoned cars. I think people need to be more tolorent around here. Some have lived for many years and consider this they're only home, and just because they're not multi millionaires, they need to take a hike?

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