UPDATE, 2:25 p.m.: That came down fast. In the two hours since we first posted this story, the City of Eureka leveled not only the house at 815 H but also some truly scandalous accusations against Floyd Squires. Anyway, check the photos of the house-pile below:
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Three days after tearing down what remained of the gratuitous, seeping eyesore that was the Blue Heron Motel, the City of Eureka today is demolishing another
residence post-apocalyptic disaster owned by notorious Eureka slumlords Floyd and Betty Squires.
According to Public Works Director Brian Gerving, the vacant structure at 815 H Street — just a husk of a once-handsome home built in Eureka’s economic heyday — had become a safety hazard due to “significant structural deficiencies” and un-repaired fire damage. Today, in the smokey sunlight, the large house showed exposed and charred timber, scorched utility boxes and crumbling stairs. Built atop fill, it has settled significantly over the years, giving the beams a haphazard tilt.
The demolition began yesterday, leaving the back side of the house exposed to reveal extensive internal fire damage including a soot-covered appliance leaning against blackened walls on the second floor.
The home, which has been vacant for some time, was not adequately secured, Gerving said, making it a risk to first responders and the public.
Coming so quickly on the heels of the Blue Heron demolition, today’s project suggests that the City may be ramping up its decades-long legal battle with the Squireses. After obtaining an inspection warrant, staff from Eureka’s Code Enforcement division went through 11 Squires-owned properties early last month, including this house at 815 H St.
Asked if the city has any other Squires properties in its crosshairs, Gerving said there are “no specific plans that I can talk about.”
As with the Blue Heron demolition, this one will eventually be paid for by the Squireses, Gerving said, though he acknowledged that the collection process can take some time. The city will send Floyd and Betty Squires a bill with a full accounting of costs.
“Should that go unpaid — which in every other case [involving the Squireses] it has — the next procedure is to go to the City Council, have them place lien or file a special assessment on property taxes on these properties,” Gerving said.
This process can take time — several years, possibly — but eventually the city will collect its due, with interest, Gerving said.
A message left for the Squireses was not returned by publication time. We’ll update when we hear back.
With the city tearing down places that once housed some of Eureka’s poorest residents, advocates for the indigent have suggested that the Squireses perform an important service, offering roofs over the heads of people who might otherwise wind up homeless.
Gerving said that argument is misguided.
“In the case of these two properties, they have been vacant for quite some times,” he said. “But in general my response would be that even those tenants who are low- or very-low-income deserve to have housing that is safe and free from these conditions that put them at risk. … There are plenty of other landlords out there who own as many or more [places] and don’t maintain their properties in this manner.”
While the workers were preparing to begin demolition this morning, a tenant emerged from the large and dilapidated apartment building next door at 833 H Street, a property also owned by the Squireses. Seeing the tractor, men in hardhats and caution tape she asked a city staffer standing nearby, “You guys aren’t taking this place down, are ya?”
He turned and answered, “Not today!”
- Eureka Cracks Down on Notorious Slumlords, Vows to Close Squires’ Motel
- For Tenants of Blue Heron Lodge, Eviction Means Yet Another Hardship
- Blue Heron Residents Evicted As City Enforces Abatement Order(PHOTOS) Armed With Warrants, EPD and City of Eureka Inspect 11 Squires-Owned Shitholes
- Early Morning Fire at Eureka ‘Problem Motels’ Sends One to Hospital
- Former Blue Heron Motel Office Building in Flames
- Accused Blue Heron Arsonist Denied Release From Jail, Despite Attorney’s Plea That She Has Cancer and an Upcoming Appointment
- (VIDEO) RIP, Blue Heron Motel! Troublesome Squires-Owned Building Demolished By Eureka