Friday, 19 April 2024

Christwitz: Sullivan truly interested in providing solutions based on public input

Several weeks ago, I attended the Judge’s Breakfast in Clearlake. I was intrigued by some comments made by Patrick Sullivan, candidate for treasurer-tax collector, regarding finding uses for tax defaulted properties that would benefit the community.

As a member of Citizens Caring 4 Clearlake, a volunteer network created to rid of litter and blight, we struggle to clean up abandoned properties that often have large overdue tax bills and even code enforcement liens. They become eyesores in neighborhoods where other property owners are working hard to keep their properties in good order.

We hope that they will end up in one of the property sale auctions conducted by the county so a new owner will clean them up. However, it rarely happens. Even if they appear on the auction list, there is no bid made on them.

I reached out to Mr. Sullivan and asked him if we could learn more details about the plans he was considering if elected to treasurer-tax collector. He immediately responded and set up a Zoom link for our volunteers to access.

Mr. Sullivan was very interested in our work and understanding the issues we were dealing with. He immediately honed his discussion to address our concerns. He explained that many of the tax defaulted properties on the list are worth less than the overdue tax bill and other liens attached to them which is why no one buys them.

Additionally, many bare land parcels can never be built on. They remain on the tax rolls, continue to blight neighborhoods and result in additional cost to the county to offer them for sale when no sale is likely.

Mr. Sullivan says there are other options — offering them to government entities, nonprofits and more. Maybe some of these properties are contiguous and could be used for building affordable housing, or for open spaces or other beneficial uses. Some, such as the Northshore paper lots, should just be removed altogether from the tax rolls.

In anticipation of taking a smarter view on dealing with these properties, several of the county departments, under the leadership of Mr. Sullivan, have cooperated to allow the public to view all on a GIS map on the county website — finally, a full view of what is available and the details about each.

He is very interested in talking to people in the neighborhoods about possible uses as he understands they have a much better understanding of the needs of their communities.

How refreshing that an elected official will be willing to reach out to neighborhood residents for their input, search for other options to solve age old problems, and be responsive to feedback.

Yes, he is planning on speeding up tax payment processing times and offering additional payment options too.

I recommend we elect Patrick Sullivan. He has made impressive progress on many issues that needed solutions during the past few years with resultant increases in revenues to our county and I am sure he will be able to do even more when he becomes Lake County’s treasurer-tax collector.

Barbara Christwitz lives in Clearlake, California.

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