Salt Lake City orders the demolition of ramshackle ballpark homes that continually catch fire

Mayor Erin Mendenhall said the problems at these properties have existed for years.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Four homes in the Ballpark neighborhood were issued with an emergency demolition order Tuesday, December 13, 2022, following a series of fires.

Salt Lake City officials on Tuesday urged the owner of four boarded-up and dilapidated homes on Major Street to demolish the buildings within 10 days — or the city will do it.

Ballpark residents had asked the city to act after a series of four fires ignited in homes on the west side of Major Street south of Harrison Avenue since Nov. 27. A house has burned three times, the last fire broke out on December 10th.

Standing in front of the charred remains of that home, Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced Tuesday afternoon that the city had ordered emergency demolitions for all four lots. The orders were recorded in front of houses and said the city had “determined[d] that the property presents a hazard to persons who might enter the property and poses a fire hazard.”

Local residents have theorized that homeless people broke into homes and started fires to keep warm. Salt Lake City Fire Department Captain Shaun Mumedy said Tuesday that investigators have not yet determined the cause of the fires.

Mendenhall said on Tuesday that while the properties have made headlines for recent fires, “more complete pictures of these four properties go back years.”

“These are years of egregious decay in all four buildings, years of decay and unsafe conditions,” she said, “and they’ve prevailed despite the city’s best efforts … to try to get property owners to conform to the code.” come heed.”

The mayor said officials realized the buildings were dangerous a year ago, and the city’s plainclothes police began punishing the property owner on a daily basis. Those fines now total about $50,000, she said.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Four homes in the Ballpark neighborhood were issued with an emergency demolition order Tuesday, December 13, 2022, following a series of fires.

According to the Salt Lake County Assessor’s Office, Thomas Investment Properties LLC owns the buildings. The holding company’s listed phone number was received with a busy tone each time The Salt Lake Tribune called Tuesday for comment.

Ballpark Community Council chairwoman Amy J. Hawkins told The Tribune she’s glad the city is taking action to demolish those homes, but feared more fires could break out before the city’s Dec. 23 demolition date.

On Monday, residents of the RoHa Brewing Project gathered on nearby Kensington Ave. 30 to a letter campaign to help build a criminal case against the property owner. Despite the city’s announcement, Hawkins encouraged residents to mail any drafted letters to the Salt Lake City Police Department.

Hawkins said Ballpark residents are calling for bigger political solutions to solve the neighborhood’s problems of repeated troublesome crimes and fires. She said without long-term housing solutions, people seeking shelter in these abandoned homes could simply move to others.

“We anticipate that they’re going to go to other occupied and vacant homes, either in our neighborhood or other neighborhoods that have a bunch of vacant homes, like Glendale, like Fairpark,” she said, “and no community deserves this problem.” ”

https://www.sltrib.com/news/2022/12/13/salt-lake-city-orders-demolition/ Salt Lake City orders the demolition of ramshackle ballpark homes that continually catch fire

Justin Scacco

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