Junk frustrates neighbor

Junk is littered around the yard of 18 Roosevelt Circle in Palo Alto, and a neighbor is complaining. Post photo by Sara Tabin.

BY SARA TABIN
Daily Post Staff Writer

Houses on Roosevelt Circle in Palo Alto’s Fairmeadow Neighborhood are generally tidy, with trim lawns and neat gardens. One house, 18 Roosevelt, stands apart from the rest. The house’s bushes are overgrown and the lawn is strewn with bike parts and cardboard boxes.

Neighbors say it poses a public health risk, but the owner maintains that his lawn is his business.

The house was brought to the attention of City Council on Monday evening when Hope Raymond, owner of 20 Roosevelt, complained that her neighbor is a hoarder. She claimed his overspilling junk is a fire hazard and that it attracts vermin to her property. The postman can barely get through the mess as the driveway and carport are filled with junk, she said.

“There are rats that have come next door from there over to my house,” said Raymond, who bought her house in 1992.

Raymond said the city has responded to her complaints in the past, but the problem hasn’t been resolved.

Junk truck called

She said the city even sent a junk trunk to clean her neighbor’s lawn, but the clutter returned in a few weeks.
Raymond said she wants the city to permanently solve the problem.

Her neighbor, in a brief interview with the Post yesterday, said his property is not his neighbor’s concern. He admitted his yard is not very well organized, but denied that it is a safety or public health hazard. The cardboard boxes, he said, are being used to store things and the bikes are a personal hobby.

“People say I’m a problem because I have more stuff than is normal,” he said. “I don’t tell other people what to do.”

When asked if his property was attracting rats, he said, “There’s rats everywhere in Palo Alto.”

He declined to give his name, but records identify the owner as Amir Bernstein.

Visits by code enforcement officers

City spokeswoman Lisa Caracciolo said the neighborly dispute has been going on for the past 12 years and that city code enforcement officers have made frequent visits to the property. The city plans to send someone out in the next few days to determine whether the property poses a fire hazard, said Caracciolo.

The property owner confirmed that the city has fined him in the past. He said that he wasn’t even sure who was making complaints against him because his neighbors don’t speak to him directly.

“Nobody every talks to me. Nobody ever asks if I’m OK,” he said. “I don’t know what I’ve ever done to anybody … I’m just here minding my own business.”

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20 Comments

  1. We have a similarly frustrating neighbor on the corner of Byron and Embarcadero. The house there has become an abandoned construction site for more than a year and neither the owner or the city are removing graffiti or keeping the property maintained or safe. Complaining to the city code enforcement department or to Palo Alto 311 has not helped, we just get apologies.

  2. This rates as one of the worst news articles I have read… we are in times where there are a lot from which to select.

    This article calls out a friend in our neighborhood by name and entices attacks by posting home address.

    Be a part of the solution, lend a hand and be a friend.

    Public shaming is not okay and does nothing but insight anger. Let’s do better.

    • +1. Palo Alto is a cesspool of entitlement and people who are more interested in their own convenience and superficial appearances than the well-being of others. SAVING THE WORLD with a Tesla and a BMW in every driveway! What a crock. I’m more concerned with the 10-20% of homes in the city that are unoccupied because they are owned by foreign investors who cash in their equity once a year. Wonder what that will do when all the money launderers and foreign millionaires and billionaires abandon them in the coming Trump recession?

    • He publicly shamed himself. Anybody can drive by that junk heap and see it for themself. The paper isn’t reporting anything that isn’t obvious to the naked eye.

    • You are absolutely correct. Public shaming and embarrassment will not help this gentleman. Fining him and bringing the city down on him will not help him. Try being a good neighbor and reaching out a helping hand not a cruel hand. Rats run along the back fences of the finest homes in the Bay Area everywhere.

  3. I’m glad the Post did this story and I hope the City Council reads it. It shows how ineffective the City is when it comes to reducing blight. And the Post isn’t shaming this guy … he shamed himself already.

  4. +1. Palo Alto is a cesspool of entitlement and people who are more interested in their own convenience and superficial appearances than the well-being of others. SAVING THE WORLD with a Tesla and a BMW in every driveway! What a crock. I’m more concerned with the 10-20% of homes in the city that are unoccupied because they are owned by foreign investors who cash in their equity once a year. Wonder what that will do when all the money launderers and foreign millionaires and billionaires abandon them in the coming Trump recession?

  5. Hoarding disorder is a mentall illness!!! Do any of you even have a clue what that means and what it entails? Shame on you neighbors for ganging up on this man. Shame on the Post for publishing the name and address of this man!!!

    • What good does it do to censor the man’s address when his house (and junk) is visible from the street for any member of the public to see? I think that falls into the category of “unnecessary censorship.”

  6. We have a guy on Fife Avenue who isn’t quite this bad, but close. It makes me wish we had firm city rules about such things, because by being a pig, someone can literally reduce property values on a street by millions of dollars.

  7. I’ve got a solution for those of you on this thread who feel this man’s address shouldn’t have been disclosed. The city should put a giant curtain in front of his yard so people won’t point at it and shame him!

  8. I hope this gentleman is ok and I don’t mind if he has some stuff in his yard… Or doesn’t… Or a partridge in a pear tree for all I care! He is my neighbor and a human being deserving of dignity and respect like everyone on Earth. Appearances aren’t everything and furthermore I think the neighborhood is better off for having a sign of life or two!!!!

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