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Brandon Street 'drug house' finally cleared

Rick Monroe

Special to the Village News

Neighbors in the 200 block of North Brandon Street are relieved that an eyesore residence – known as a drug house – is being transformed after squatters were finally evicted.

The eviction process took about a year as the family of the deceased owner, Elizabeth A. Anthony, transitioned from a conservatorship case, when she was hospitalized, to probate when she passed.

"This property which has been a major crime issue has just started to make the turn to becoming an active positive influence in the community," said Pat Anthony, the probate executor and Utah resident.

Located at 209 N. Brandon St., county records show the 3-bedroom house is 912 square feet on a 1.9 acre lot. The yard was littered with a trailer, canopy, sheds, bicycles, a broken vehicle and motorcycle, waste and trash.

Realtor Marcos Hill of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in Riverside said the bill for removing everything from the yard alone was $13,000. Dumpsters and a work crew were scheduled this week to clean out the interior of the home.

"The property is in escrow and plans are to make it the best or one of the best on the block," said Hill.

"Neighbors are very excited," Anthony said.

Hill said he didn't think the neighbors would comment on the property, but he was blunt in assessing the situation. "The neighbors were scared, but now that part is over," he said. "The squatters scattered like roaches. I'm so happy for the community. It was a drug house for about four years, with shootings, stabbings, and an overdose death, but we're clearing it all out."

Anthony added that the neighbors felt threatened by break-ins and other incidents.

The Realtor said that a couple months ago, prior to court proceedings, he offered the primary squatter, known as Cowboy, $20,000 cash in exchange for the keys, but he declined.

"He said he felt he had squatter's rights," Hill said.

"Cowboy" and his friends were evicted by the Sheriff's Department's court services, supported by local deputies.

"I feel bad because these were displaced people who found a place to survive," Hill said. "They should have taken the money we offered, because they left with nothing."

There were up to 11 people living on the property including the trailer, he added.

Lt. Aldo Hernandez, commander of the Sheriff's substation in Fallbrook, advised residents to be cautious of squatters.

"Don't let someone live on your vacant property," he said. "Check your uninhabited buildings or use a property management company if needed."

He said with current California law, residents should be proactive.

"If we can hear from you early, it's possible to have charges of trespassing or burglary, but if you wait too long it can be a problem."

With the Brandon Street property, issues like code compliance and abatements take time, Hernandez said. "Finally, the owner's relatives got involved and it took a civil court to approve the eviction."

Hernandez said that over 3-5 years, there were a few serious incidents and a lot of minor ones at the Branden property.

"The neighbors will be happy now and I'm happy for them," he added. "I'm just worried that the squatters will go find another flop house."


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