Neighbors concerned about rundown property

For years the vacant Taco Bell at Ninth Street and Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach was known to harbor squatters and troublemakers, and things haven't gotten much better since it has been torn down.

The fast-food joint was demolished in March, but the debris was left behind. And though the property is now fenced off, the public nuisances persist.

Huntington Beach resident Dave Reese, 35, has lived in Surf City for the last 12 years. He lives in one of the homes behind the lot and has seen trouble come and go.

"When you have a rundown building or a place that looks trashy, it just kind of attracts that type of activity," he said.

For the last four years, the view from his home was the vacant Taco Bell and the waves off the coast.

The sight of beachgoers and the water still remain, but the empty building was replaced with ruins. Reese said people manage to gain access to the lot and create problems despite the locked fences.

"We called the cops on this guy once because he just got wasted and was yelling in the street," he said.

Orange Coast Homes, which owns the property, is planning to construct a mixed-use development with two commercial spaces at ground level and 14 residential condominiums above, said Keith Bohr, real estate broker for the property.

Huntington Beach senior code enforcement officer Michael Fuentes said Orange Coast told him that the debris "should be gone within 14 to 21 days."

But Bohr, a former Huntington Beach council member, said he doesn't know when the materials will be hauled away.

Fuentes said the cleanup is taking awhile because under California's recycling law, developers have to either reuse or recycle at least 50% of the material demolished into the new structure. The property owner's open demolition permit requires that the site be cleared within 180 days, he said.

Reese said the space has become a problem.

"It's kind of becoming a big trash dump," Reese said. "We don't know why it's not getting taken care of or how they can legally proceed to dump trash in that area. We asked for an ocean view and now we have a trash dump in front of us."

A Best Western sits near the empty lot, and employee Gregg Ramsey says the hotel gets complaints from guests.

"It's kind of an eyesore and people here on that side of the hotel don't like to look at the broken-down building," he said. "We haven't had that many complaints lately about people drinking, but we have before."

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