Sentinel staff report–
Citrus Heights council members will hold a closed-door meeting Thursday evening to discuss the potential purchase of a 2.7-acre property with a boarded-up home at the corner of Mariposa Avenue and Old Auburn Road, according to an agenda posted on the city website.
Following the death of owner James Wheeler inside the home last year and an unsuccessful search for heirs by county officials, the dilapidated corner property at 7716 Old Auburn Rd. was posted on a list of tax-defaulted properties to be auctioned by Sacramento County next month. According to county records, property taxes had not been paid on the parcel for more than five years, making it eligible for the county to sell at auction in order to recover unpaid taxes.
Under the state tax code, cities have a right to acquire a tax-defaulted property “that is or may be needed for public use,” by filing an objection to the sale and submitting an application to purchase — which then causes the property to be removed from public auction.
The city council’s Jan. 25 agenda lists both a closed session to negotiate “price and terms of payment” with the county, along with a related agenda item during the council’s regular meeting to approve a resolution objecting to the sale of the properties.
Rhonda Sherman, the city’s community services director, said staff have already filed an initial letter objecting to the sale, but the county is requiring council approval of the objection.
Currently, the property is still listed on the tax sale auction list, with a minimum bid price of $22,300. Sherman said the city is not required to offer more than the minimum price listed, meaning the city could acquire the nearly 3-acre property for a price far-below market value.
Commenting on the city’s intentions for potential future use of the property, Sherman said specific plans have not yet been determined. General intended use for the property is listed in a staff report included in Thursday’s city council agenda packet, stating a goal “to remediate the existing blight and to be used for infrastructure improvements and preservation of open space.”
Asked whether the reference to infrastructure improvement could include widening Old Auburn Road, Sherman said she had not personally discussed widening the roadway, but said a grant from Caltrans had been secured in order to develop a plan for improving Old Auburn Road.
“We don’t have a plan yet,” said Sherman, who is listed as an agency negotiator for the closed session meeting on Thursday. “We have a grant that’s going to enable us to create a plan.”
The city is also seeking to acquire a portion of a lot on Auburn Boulevard that is slated to go to public auction next month as well. The old gas station property, at 8244 Auburn Blvd., has been long-vacant and has been tax-defaulted for more than five years.
The city is seeking to acquire only a portion of the Auburn Boulevard lot, in the interest of roadway improvements related to the Auburn Boulevard Complete Streets Project. An appraisal for the portion being sought lists a market value of $24,200.
If the properties end up being purchased by the city, Sherman said this would be the first time Citrus Heights will have acquired properties using this process.
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