Mohave County condemned my neighbor’s old house

I could spit nails!

The County posted an “abatement notice” at a neighbor’s property and earlier today I called Edward Kulik, chief building honcho (no title on the MC website).

My neighbor is only out here occasionally because it’s too remote for his wife, but he enjoys the solitude. He built the house about 20 years ago, long before inspections. He got a permit and was told that he could build whatever he wanted. It’s not pretty, but that’s what it looked like when I moved here and I actually prefer the look of the old house to the new mobile home next door. I prefer “real” and off grid.

It expresses everything I love about the area: individuality, creativity, simplicity, sovereignty, independence.

That’s what I love about LMC and the Units out here.

So a few months ago my neighbor’s nightmare started after an anonymous complaint was received by the County about “open sewer pipes” (he collected rain water) and unsafe structures. One day his wife called me several times because she was so worried about him while he was out here for a few days and she thought he might die he was so stressed, couldn’t sleep, blood pressure 200 / 120, etc. They only have one car and she was a couple hours away.

They removed all the water pipes and stuff laying around, cleaned up the property, took down a shade structure over a camper and some other small structures.

One of the building guys recently told my neighbor he was “clear” — good to go. He was SO happy!

Then last week three guys from the building department including Ed Kulik showed up unannounced while he happened to be here. We are wondering whether his neighbor calls the building department every time my neighbor is out here. It’s too hot for him right now and it’s quite the coincidence that they met up with him. They told him that the building was unsafe, but didn’t elaborate.

My neighbor visited me later that day to tell me what happened and how upset he was, his blood pressure was 200 / 120 again and he’s just so stressed. He had NO idea what they wanted him to do and I suggested waiting for a more specific letter from the building department.

Yesterday I saw a county vehicle at his property and I ended up talking to George for quite a while. He was posting the abatement notice and since that’s all he does he didn’t have specific info either. He suggested that instead of calling my neighbor and giving him a heart attack, I might want to speak with Ed Kulik first to discuss specifics and work on a plan so the issues could be resolved and it wouldn’t be such devastating news.

This morning I spoke with Ed Kulik and my neighbor is so screwed.

While Mr. Kulik mentioned an unsafe entrance (you have to have lighting and a landing area and bla bla bla) and structural issues, they will not even tell my neighbor WHAT EXACTLY the problems are. According to Mr. Kulik, he needs to hire an architect or contractor to go through the house and bring it up to the International Property MAINTENANCE Code and then they’ll inspect it.

What exactly are my neighbor’s options?
Mr. Kulik said he had three options:

  1. Bring the building up to code.
  2. Remove the building.
  3. Do nothing and the County will take care of it.

The way I understand the process, the county sues and if the owner does not comply with the court order the county will pay for demolition and cleanup and attach a lien to the property.  Of course the land is essentially worthless, which is why so many people don’t pay their property taxes on vacant lots around here.

I know someone who went through this in Seligman (Yavapai County), got sued and had to pay over $800 for the permit to demolish a cabin that had been on the property when they purchased it.

Is it time to report the many worthless and abandoned properties to the County so it can remove these mobile homes and vehicles?

I could report at least 20 properties with gutted mobiles and often old scrapped vehicles in my neighborhood.  ALL of these abandoned mobiles fail to comply with the International Property Maintenance Code   Many are owned by out of area estates and nobody wants these properties because nobody will ever BUY them and you can’t live in them.

Should we start the process of getting these properties into County ownership?

Create some work for them that doesn’t kill our residents?

What exactly ARE the County’s maintenance requirements?

George said yesterday that the International Property Maintenance Code requires heating and A/C. I questioned A/C and he added that the County requires it because it’s so hot here.

I know that Unisource routinely shuts off power for non payment during hot summers because people can’t pay their bills.

Is the County going to condemn every house that doesn’t have power?  Where are these people supposed to go?

They don’t have the money to pay their power bills ….

When I mentioned to Mr. Kulik that my neighbor doesn’t even live in the house (he stays in a camper) he responded that there is a toilet in the house. I asked whether we could resolve the issue by removing the toilet, but no such luck.

The International Property Maintenance Code applies to ALL structures, everything that has 4 walls, such as pump houses, storage sheds, etc.

I forgot to ask whether these structures also had to have heating and A/C.

How many deaths and injuries have occurred in the last 200 years due to unsafe structures?

Mr. Kulik knew of NONE.

I knew two people who got hurt in mobile homes.  One died in Meadview in a mobile home fire (inhaling the chemicals in the smoke) and the other lost the use of her hands in a Golden Valley mobile home fire.

If anything, mobile homes should be outlawed.

Mobile homes are death traps, yet our County has no problem allowing people to die.

Health Impacts of Fire Smoke Inhalation

Most fatalities from fires are not due to burns, but are a result of inhalation of toxic gases produced during combustion. Fire produces a complex toxic environment involving flame, heat, oxygen depletion, smoke and toxic gases. As a wide variety of synthetic materials is used in buildings (insulation, furniture, carpeting, and decorative items) the potential for severe health impacts from inhalation of products of combustion during building fires is continuously increasing. …

So there is a REAL problem, people DIE, yet the County does NOTHING.

Lives are lost because people cannot afford to build real houses and they die in mobile home fires.

Synthetic materials are CONTINUALLY poisoning us.  Of course the toxic gasses are less concentrated and we don’t die immediately, but we are affected and some people are now so allergic they have to “air out” books before they can read them.

I so regret that I built my house with fiberglass insulation, OSB and sheet rock.  I’ve learned so much since I built, but if I had gone alternative, I’m sure they’d condemn my house too. Most “approved” materials are toxic. I’ll never understand why people LIKE the new car and new house stench.  The smell of sickness.

As of 2008 the County required building inspections for construction, tremendously increasing the cost of owner built homes.

In the last 10 years I’m aware of exactly ONE new home construction in 3 square miles of residential lots (guessing about 1500 vacant acres) in Lake Mead City and Unit 6 and 7. And the only reason that one house is built is because the daughter and her husband are moving here to take care of her elderly parents. Maybe there’s another one on a road I never drive.  Think about what this does to our economy!

Mr. Kulik also informed me that the BOS voted to adopt the International Property Maintenance Code and that he’s just following orders.

I’m emailing the link to this post to our supervisor Jean Bishop and I’m hoping we can work this out. Fortunately my neighbor didn’t have a heart attack when I called him and he wants to work WITH the County, but he is also ready to fight and take this to the media and maybe even look for an attorney.

The BOS has options:

The BOS could do as little as exempting all pre 2008 construction unless it is a safety hazard to OTHERS.   A neighbor’s storage trailer on Peach lost a significant part of the metal roof and one wall during a dust devil in 2006.  Fortunately, I was NOT painting my shed that afternoon because something hit the ladder I had been standing on 24 hours earlier and something hit and broke my brand new aluminum ladder.  I’ve seen carports blown hundreds of feet from their original location.  It’s an issue, but I can live with that. What can you do?  It’s how it is, the wind is getting worse.

My preferred option is to follow the lead of Cochise County:
https://www.cochise.az.gov/development-services/owner-builder-amendment

Section 5 – Amendment Options.

Option 1: Full Construction Plan Review with Limited Building Code Inspection: This option when selected by the applicant during the permit issuance process requires (in addition to Zoning and other County Departments inspection requirements) that only Limited Building Code inspections dealing with the trade areas of Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and Fire Prevention be completed by County Building Inspectors. Full Construction Plan Review and the required limited Inspections for this option will be completed in accordance with the adopted Cochise County Building Safety Code.

Option 2: No Construction Plan Review with No Building Code Inspection: This option, when selected by the applicant during the permit issuance process requires (in addition to Zoning and other County Departments inspection requirements) that No Building Code inspections be completed by County Building Inspectors. In addition, by selecting this option, No construction plans are required to be submitted or reviewed by the County Planning Department.

  • Our code compliant TOXIC houses and especially mobile homes are killing us and we really should ENCOURAGE experimentation with alternative materials such as papercrete, hempcrete, adobe, cob, in-ground living areas, etc.
  • Mohave County revenues would INCREASE tremendously if people built homes here again.

Not only would property tax revenue increase, but the economy would benefit tremendously not just from the building, but from the residents paying for goods and services in Kingman and Bullhead and especially medical services can bring literally hundreds of thousands of dollars per resident to Mohave County — paid for by insurance and going directly to the people living in Mohave County:  the doctors, nurses, receptionists, janitors, lab technicians, etc. etc.

Sometimes I hear BOS discussions and it almost seams like they understand the huge positive economic impact of tourism.

Why don’t they understand the benefits of attracting more residents?

Is it Agenda 21?  They don’t WANT people in the rural areas anymore?

I don’t want every lot to be built on either, but we need BALANCE.  As so many of my friends and neighbors moved closer to doctors or died, many in their 60s, we need new people moving here, we need to get rid of the vacant unsafe mobile homes and encourage residents to BUILD.

Most land owners purchased lots here because they had a dream — to retire and to build their own home in the beautiful Mohave County high desert.

SO MANY have done this until 2008, when building inspections were required. Most built beautiful homes, far superior to even the most expensive mobile homes.

Nobody deserves the abuse my neighbor has been suffering.

ESPECIALLY in a county like Mohave County where a gazillion organizations pride themselves in supporting veterans, the County excels at causing harm. I don’t like to play the “vet card” because I believe that the truck drivers who deliver our food and all the crap we need deserve just as much respect and support. Truck drivers have a short life expectancy and many suffer with chronic ailments and extremely painful back issues. I’ve NEVER seen any kind of appreciation for the truck drivers’ service, or the nurses that wipes our asses when we’re sick or the teachers that teach our kids or the construction workers outside in this heat all day working on the roads.

Nobody deserves this harassment.

We ALL deserve BETTER!

My neighbor shouldn’t have to play the Vietnam Vet card, but it is an option.


My email to our supervisor Jean Bishop:
7/25/18
Dear Supervisor Bishop:

We need some urgent changes to the way the building and MAINTENANCE codes are enforced and the short story is at [this URL]

I really did not appreciate Ed Kulik’s attitude when I spoke to him today, but my neighbor was in good spirits when I called to give him the bad news because I promised to do whatever I can to assist him and he’s ready to fight.

However, he already sent an email to Mr. Kulik asking for an appointment as he would much rather resolve this issue instead of getting into a long drawn out legal and media battle. He asked me whether I could attend the meeting and of course I will if I don’t have to work. Maybe you could attend too? I know how busy you are, it’s an option.

Maybe you can stop this madness of requiring my neighbor to hire someone (who???) to determine which sections of the International Property Maintenance Code were violated?

And if it’s slow at County enforcement, I can certainly provide 20 or 30 VACANT properties to keep everybody busy and there is no need to put my neighbor into an early grave.

In my posting I addressed many related issues as well as solutions such as exemptions as in Cochise County. I don’t understand why Mohave County policies are turning one of the most beautiful deserts on the planet into this place of misery, depression, sickness and hopelessness.

Increasing the maximum square footage for non permitted structures to 300 sqft was an excellent step in the right direction, but what’s happening to my neighbor is insane!

I’ll greatly appreciate your looking into this abuse of power that quite likely WILL kill my neighbor and others,

Christine Baker

2 Responses to Mohave County condemned my neighbor’s old house

  1. This is absolutely amazing. It took all of these county resources to give this fellow grief?? If I were him I’d go the lawyer route and sue for discrimination, all a reasonable person has to present is the total lAck of the abatement process in the rest of the county. It seeems that this fellow is on their radar and that’s all they see. Bishop needs to step up or a lawyer needs to fight.
    Start a “ go fund me” site

Leave a Reply