Demolition of dozens of buildings the city has deemed a nuisance has been stopped, an attorney for the property owner said Wednesday, following a Superior Court judge's delay of a hearing on the issue for two weeks.
The buildings, on 16 acres at 2828 N. Bristol St., have been vacant for more than a year, a situation that city officials say can lead to crime. Citing that concern, Santa Ana filed a lawsuit against the property owners in June asking that the structures be torn down.
A stumbling block to the demolition has been the involvement of the Resolution Trust Corp., the federal agency established to oversee the assets of failed savings and loans. The RTC had a financial stake in the property.
But the city and property owners disagree on whether the agency has given permission for the demolition to proceed. City officials say that a Nov. 22 letter effectively gives that permission; Ronald Davis, attorney for property owner Cooper Fellowship Inc., said it does not.
Because Davis expected the November letter to give permission clearly for the demolition to proceed, his client began preliminary work last week to clear the site. But in light of the ambiguity left by Nov. 22 letter, Davis said, that work has stopped.
Also Wednesday, the city was set to ask Superior Court Judge Jack K. Mandel to order that the demolition proceed. But Mandel delayed his decision for two weeks while he examines the letter and other papers filed by the city Wednesday.
"We can't keep going on like this," Assistant City Atty. Robert J. Wheeler said after the court hearing, "so we'll have to let the judge decide."