Woodbridge residents use civil court tool against neighbor
The Woodbridge home of Marlen Lopez, 21, is surrounded by an iron fence. Lopez was one of several plaintiffs who successfully sued Juanita Herrera in small-claims court over what Lopez considers to be harassment.
- Safe Streets Now at a glance
The Safe Streets Now process empowers community members to
address public nuisance problems through civil action. It is based
on a California state law, which requires property owners to use
their property in an ordinary and reasonable manner that is
conducive to the peace and harmony of the neighborhood, and does
not interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or
Safe Streets Now can be an effective tool when:
- The problems stem from a single, identifiable property, such as
a single-family residence, business or apartment complex.
- A significant number of community members are willing to get
involved in a unified effort to solve the problems.
- The overall quality of life in the neighborhood or community is
notably diminished by problems related to the property.
Safe Streets Now involves:
- Documenting the problems in a way that will reflect the scope
and severity of the negative impacts.
- Demanding action be taken in a formal letter that summarizes
the problems, identifies solutions and calls for immediate
- Negotiating a solution.
- If necessary, filing a consolidated action against the property
owner in small-claims court.
In most cases, regardless of how egregious the problems, a
mobilized group of community members can compel a problem property
owner to address the problems in a satisfactory manner without
going to court.
The program involves a four-step process:
1. Documentation: Establish a written record of the disruptive
activity, detailing all relevant information including who, what,
when, where and how.
2. Notification: Notify property owner of the problems, most
often in the form of a letter of notification that describes the
documented problems and demands reasonable corrective action within
a specific time period.
3. Mediation: Meet on multiple occasions to discuss existing
problems and potential solutions.
4. Litigation: If mediation fails, file a case with small-claims
court. The goal is not to receive money, but to force the property
owner to take corrective action.
For more information, visit www.whho.com/Safe%20Streets.pdf.
— Source: Safe Border Community Project, Institute for
Public Strategies, Chula Vista
Posted: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 12:00 am
A group of feisty Woodbridge residents who decided they weren't
going to put up with a troublesome neighbor have used a
little-known tool to win a series of court judgments.
Seven residents have been awarded $7,500 each plus $75 in court
costs against Juanita Herrera, who lived in a house on Mokelumne
Street until she moved out in early December.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010 12:00 am.