City Questioned on Taxpayer Money Used to Clean Up Foreclosed Property
by Jack Mayne
North Burien resident Dick West wants to know why Burien city government spent upwards of $15,000 to clean up debris and trash from a foreclosed home at 11416 26th Ave. South (map below) and apparently was never was reimbursed by the property owner, Chase Home Mortgage.
West told the Burien City Council meeting Monday night that the property sat abandoned while it was in foreclosure, a “house with 40 yards of garbage.”
He says he spent about $600 of his own money to hire a bankruptcy attorney to investigate after a news story last October about the abandoned house in the Highline Times.
The investigation showed the house was surrendered to Chase Mortgage on March 25, 2010.
“That was 35 days before the dumping (on the property) began and eight months before the city cleanup,” West told the council.
“Instead of pursuing abatement action against Chase, the legal owner, the city manager and city attorney chose to clean up the mess with city funds,” West said.
“Since the city chose to not charge Chase for the cleanup of its property, I want to know what public accounts were charged for cleaning up Chase’s legal obligation,” West said. “How many thousands of dollars were involved. I want to know why things were done the way they were.”
He said he estimated the cost at “between $10,000 and $15,000” but could be off on his estimate.
“I respectfully request that a due diligence report into this matter, including recovery of these monies be entered into the public record by Aug. 1,” he told council members. The city should consider “action against Chase” or if that is not an option, then “the council should contact your insurance carrier for recovery of lost city funds.”
West said a statement attributed to City Manager Mike Martin in the Oct. 26 issue of the Highline Times said, “It should be noted that the city in unable to recover the cost of removing that garbage and securing the property because the owner was/is in bankruptcy.”
The property has now been sold and is occupied as a rental and that it has been well maintained during the past few months.