One of the fun things about tugging on threads like this is trying to find answers to the questions readers are asking.

Not just, is this Point Loma house in foreclosure (it is) or what other spots in the county are like this (there are several), but what role the city might play in your efforts to clean up eyesores in your neighborhoods.

We’re learning quite a bit about how the city approaches projects like these. We had this update from the city’s code compliance chief this morning — that unless the project is vacant, unsecured or becomes a public nuisance, the city doesn’t usually get involved.

But I hadn’t yet talked to the person who’s actually in charge of building permits — who would be able to tell me if the Plum Street house we’ve been talking about has a valid building permit.

That official is Afsaneh Ahmadi. She called me today.

The Plum Street property‘s owner, Francisco Mendiola, obtained a building permit in August 2007.

Usually the city gives single-family homeowners two years to complete the project they get permits for. The permits for this property have now expired, meaning there can’t be construction work done on unless the owner applies for an extension. (The owner is still required to maintain the safety measures at the property, like the fence and the storm water tarps.)

The foreclosure notice on the property says Mendiola stopped making his payments in September.

But Ahmadi said the city’s building inspection chief, William Barranon, heard from Mendiola “just a few days ago” and Mendiola wants to get an extension on the permits, which could give the project until early 2012 to be completed. The city passed an ordinance last year that allows homeowners and developers to ask for more than the usual two years to finish home remodeling projects.

Why would Mendiola approach the city for a permit extension when public records suggest he hasn’t paid his mortgage in six months?

“I’m intrigued,” I said.

“We are, too,” Ahmadi said.

Ahmadi said that the Point Loma property doesn’t seem to be a public nuisance. And the city’s hands are tied unless it is.

“If it’s there and it just looks ugly, we can’t do anything about it,” she said. “I’ve had one of those in our neighborhood, and the house has been under construction for many, many years. And it looks ugly but it’s not a public nuisance.”


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