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Demolition looms for abandoned property in Lake Isabella that has been impacting local business

Owner of Sequoia Mountain Apothecary says that property at 5334 Lake Isabella Boulevard has become a dumping ground
Posted at 6:05 PM, Apr 29, 2024

LAKE ISABELLA, Calif. (KERO) — Broken windows, trash piled six feet high and an overwhelming stench - residents told 23ABC that the property at 5334 Lake Isabella Boulevard Lake Isabella has been a nuisance for years.

  • A property at 5334 Lake Isabella Boulevard is filled with trash, is dilapidated and is often occupied by homeless people. These issues are all impacting a nearby business.
  • Kern County Code Compliance says they have been aware of the property since 2020.
  • Al Rojas, Cod Compliance Program Manager for Kern County, estimates that roughly 25% of abandoned properties in Kern County have owners that aren’t local.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

Broken windows, trash piled six feet high and an overwhelming stench - residents told 23ABC that the property at 5334 Lake Isabella Boulevard Lake Isabella has been a nuisance for years.

“There are a lot of new people who have come here that have started businesses and they really want to bring Lake Isabella back and they want it flourishing again, I’m one of those,” said Stephenie Blankenship, owner of Sequoia Mountain Apothecary, a health and wellness store that opened last November.

Stephanie Blankenship, owner of Sequoia Mountain Apothecary, opened her business last November near the corner of Jerry Avenue and Lake Isabella Boulevard, renovating the space to open her store.

“There is such a need to rebuild Lake Isabella.”

Lake Isabella Boulevard is the main commercial street in Lake Isabella, but it is dotted with empty storefronts.

Blankenship says that one empty building across the street has caused persistent problems and that homeless people live there on and off.

“When tourists and people come into town this is one of the first things they see, and I put myself in their position and I don’t know if I’d want to shop at this store right across the street.”

The building is filled with trash, windows are broken, and the structure is dilapidated.

Blankenship says she believes the building is a public safety hazard.

“There have actually been three fires in that building, I’ve been contacted twice, wondering if it was my building that was on fire.”

Blankenship says she had contacted Kern County Code Compliance.

“Recently there was a fire, so now we’ve changed our focus to demolition,” said Al Rojas, Code Compliance Program Manager for Kern County.

Rojas says they’ve been aware of the property since 2020, and have had six cases since then related to the property and have cleaned up the property six times.

“The owner has not been responsive to any of our notices.”

Code compliance is in charge of bringing in compliance properties that violate the ordinance code. Demolition is one of the final measures they will take. Since the property has become a hazard, code compliance has started that process.

“We’ve completed our title search, again, it’s a matter of notifying it’s a matter of notifying all lien holders for the property, once that time has expired, I believe we are about halfway through it, so probably in another two weeks, then we can solicit bids to demolish the structure.”

Blankenship said code compliance has been responsive and communicative with her.

“I actually had requested some information, and they gave me some information on the building and what they are trying to do.”

This is a relief for Blankenship, who told me she hopes to see increased resources in the Kern River Valley to help those experiencing homelessness.

“We really need support for them up here, we don;t have it, and we truly need some kind of support so this kind of stuff stops.”


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