San Jose

San Jose Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco Cracks Down on Slumlords

Fix your property or else.

That’s the message from San Jose Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco to slumlords in her district.

The threat comes just over two weeks after two children were burned trying to escape from an apartment fire in East San Jose.

Sources tell NBC Bay Area the fire at the Poco Way apartments was started by an electrical issue inside the children’s unit.

This week, code enforcement inspectors have been visiting the complex in a thorough inspection.

They initially found broken smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.

The also had the owner replace 22 of the 40 stoves in the complex for “sparking” issues.

“The cost of prevention is so much less than coming back and having to deal with the cost of fines, possible lawsuits,” said Cheryl Wessling, a spokeswoman for the city’s code enforcement department.

Inspectors will be back on Thursday, the fourth day of inspections.

“It’s a second comb-through for any and all violations, and our inspectors are telling me that they are finding more things,” Wessling said.

“The wood under the sink has dry rot, and the electrical outlets are loose,” Maria Gonzalez said in Spanish.

Gonzalez is one of the tenants whose apartment was inspected. June and Abigail Gomez were injured when the June 26 fire broke out.

They made a daring escape from their second floor unit.

But friends tell NBC Bay Area that Julio remains in an induced coma to ease the pain.

He received second and third degree burns over much of his body.

”He’s been going through some hard stuff. His family and stuff. I kinda (feel) bad for him,” said Julio Pathe, a friend of the victims at the complex.

The apartment manager, Paul Kang, told NBC Bay Area he couldn’t talk because he was busy monitoring the inspections.

Inspectors say Kan has been cooperative so far.

On Tuesday, Carassco issued a terse statement in regards to the fire and all landlords.

Carrasco said all slumlords in the district are on notice to bring their properties up to code or face a possible court injunction.

City Attorney Rick Doyle said an injunction against a landlord can include heavy daily fines. And in one case in Santa Clara County several years ago, a judge ordered a slumlord to live in the same property in question for 30 days.

“The cost of prevention is so much less than coming back and having to deal with the cost of fines, possible lawsuits,” Wessling said.

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