Directly across from Philip Marx Central Park, police were called to a home located at 315 E. E St. a total of 111 times. According to Tehachapi Police Chief Kent Kroeger, the home had been known for criminal activity and drug use ever since 2007.
Kroeger and Officer Aaron Price of the Code Enforcement Division gave a presentation during the regular March 15 City Council meeting, describing how the home became condemned.
"We believe this information is important to share not only to the council, but to the community, not only to illustrate the great work of our code enforcement division, but also to express how important and effective this work is to improve the quality of life of our neighborhoods," Kroeger said.
When the homeowner died in 2015 and left the estate to an adult son, Price said, the criminal activity noticeably increased.
"This property has been somewhat of a nuisance for the Tehachapi Police Department for a number of years," Price said.
With the new owner, code enforcement officers were called to the residence numerous times and issued citations for trash, poor maintenance, loose dogs and inoperable vehicles.
"Some of the cars had transients sleeping in them during the time we were working on this," Price said.
On Feb. 10, TPD received a complaint of drug use and child neglect and officers located drug paraphernalia inside a child's toy.
"A probation search was conducted," Price said. "We were familiar with pretty much everyone inside the home, and we found a number of disturbing things."
Price said officers also discovered a large amount of methamphetamine, approximately eight grams, which he said is usually indicative of sales inside the home. Four people were arrested on charges ranging from possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia, to child neglect and maintaining a drug house, he said.
That same day, TPD determined the residence uninhabitable due to filth and unsanitary conditions, animal feces, combustible materials covering the floors (clothing), rotten food left out and an infestation of bed bugs.
Code enforcement and the city building inspector condemned the property and the city began the process of initiating a receivership action under the California Drug House Abatement Act.
The action was successful in pushing the owner to sell the property to a third party, who agreed to bring the home up to compliance, inside and out, said Price.
In addition, the city recovered $20,000 to cover the cost of its abatement efforts over the years.
Said Price, "Obviously our time costs the city money, and we try to make sure the taxpayers are not paying for that whenever possible."
According to Kroeger, the city has received zero calls for service since the new owner took possession, and the home is "now one of the most aesthetically pleasing in the downtown area."
City Manager Greg Garrett said "that is a success story, and we have a lot of success stories downtown."
Today, the property is almost unrecognizable from the former drug house, and is considered one of the best-looking houses in the downtown area.
"In this case, it was pretty bad. A drug house. Our police department had been there 111 times in the last couple of years, so we were able to work with our code enforcement department and the courts and the property was sold to a local guy. He remodeled it and has put it back on the market. We are very, very excited about that," Garrett said.
Mayor Phil Smith said the city has no input as to who buys abatement homes.
"This is a fantastic job Aaron, chief and everyone involved to get this problem removed," Smith said. "And what a final result! Everyone is amazed and pleased, and I think the neighborhood is surely happy of the work performed."