Residents have asked city officials to take action against a dilapidated La Jolla Avenue house that they say has become a haven for transients and public sex.
For at least a year, the three-bedroom, Spanish-style cottage at 902 N. La Jolla Ave. has been abandoned for long periods, residents say, frustrating efforts to clean up the surrounding neighborhood.
According to county property records, the house belongs to 68-year-old Paul Mathison, who neighbors said has lived at the address off and on.
City officials say they recently cited Mathison for violating property maintenance standards. But it remains unclear whether he will be able to comply with the citation.
A Sheriff's Department spokesman says that Mathison has been hospitalized since early last month, when he was allegedly attacked and robbed by a transient he had hired as a handyman.
Attempts to reach Mathison were unsuccessful.
Norma Kemper, a resident who has asked the City Council to investigate the property, said she and other neighbors harbor no ill will toward Mathison, who city officials say is disabled. Residents just want the property cleaned up and made safer, she said.
"In some respects, (Mathison) hasn't gotten the help he needs," Kemper said. "He's fallen through the cracks."
Paul Mahar, who lives nearby, said the house has dragged down the neighborhood.
On a recent evening, the front yard was littered with trash and sawhorses and the house was dark and appeared unoccupied.
Mahar and other neighbors questioned a city official's contention that the property is being maintained by a caretaker.
"If there was a caretaker, he certainly wasn't doing a very good job," Mahar said.