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Youngstown house razed without notice, California landlord sues

Published: Sat, August 17, 2013 @ 12:07 a.m.

By peter h. MILLIKEN



A California landlord has sued the city of Youngstown and an unnamed John Doe defendant, saying the city negligently demolished his house without notifying him in advance after a Jan. 17 fatal fire in that house.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court by Twelve Thrush Avenue Realty Trust of Santa Cruz, Calif., of which Edward F. Goldstein is listed as the trustee.

Goldstein complained that the city demolished his house at 362 Broadview Ave. on June 4, after he had notified a city demolition coordinator in a Jan. 23 email of his intention to restore that rental property for occupancy as soon as the weather permitted restoration work.

Firefighters found a badly burned occupant of the house, Michael Furgas, 53, dead a few feet from his front door, connected to an oxygen tank. They said the blaze may have been caused by his smoking a cigarette near the tank.

The lawsuit, which demands a jury trial and more than $25,000 in damages, says the city violated the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by depriving the landlord of his property without due process of law. The case is assigned to Judge John M. Durkin.

Anthony Farris, city law director, declined to comment on the suit, but he provided The Vindicator with a May 6 letter from Fire Chief John J. O’Neill Jr. to DeMaine Kitchen, demolition supervisor and assistant to the mayor, which called for an expedited emergency demolition of the house, which O’Neill described as vacant, structurally unsound, impractical to repair, and potentially hazardous to firefighters and adjacent occupied structures.

Farris also offered a 2011 decision in another post-fire Youngstown demolition case, in which a three-judge panel of the 7th District Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that no notice is required for an emergency demolition.


1ytownsteelman(627 comments)posted 1 year ago

Four and a half months after sending an email stating that the house would be repaired as soon as the weather permitted the house is demolished. Spring started in April and so could have his repairs. His delay cost him his house. Tough luck! Maintain it or it will be demolished!

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2handymandave(456 comments)posted 1 year ago

All the City needs to do is give the guy back the 2,000.00 he paid for the house than the Californian can buy another one of these fine homes.

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3youngstown615(97 comments)posted 1 year ago

Instead of sueing the City, these "out of state slum lords" should be thrown in jail. These people buy homes, neglect them, rent them to the poor, & now want a pay back ? This is why our city is in the condition it is in. I am sure the judge will do the right thing. A start; make the land owner & Trustee Goldstein pay for the house demolition & funeral expenses of the renter.

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4Ianacek(900 comments)posted 1 year ago

There are plenty of fire damaged buildings that have stood for years . What made this building's demolition so urgent , when another across the street from it is still working its way slowly through the normal demolition procedures ?

"These people" is a popular xenophobe catchcry , but at what cost to Youngstown's economy ? The City's recovery has relied a lot on out of state capital .

I don't know what planet Youngstown615 is on that he wants Mr Goldstein to be responsible for his negligent tenant's funeral expenses . I don't know where Handymandave got his information about Mr Goldstein only paying $2,000 for the house , because the County Auditors website says $18,900 was the consideration , & there will have been likely a rehab budget as well .

The real reason "why our city is in the condition it is in" is that too many Youngstown residents left the city to live elsewhere , economic & crime impelled refugees often so desperate to leave they abandoned their homes to turn into blight .

Thankfully , investors came along & buy some of these vacant houses , renovated them & got people living in them again.
I know many absentee landlords whose properties have been refurbished to a very high standard. I haven't looked at all of Mr Goldstein's properties or know whether he has had historic issues with the City about any of them , but I did confirm that all the Goldstein properties are current on property taxes .
However , I know of many properties abandoned by ex locals that are several years tax delinquent & a burden on neighborhood groups , the City & Police because the Land Bank or whoever can't organize themselves to put the properties on the market , get them sold to owner occupiers or investors who can get them lived in again .

In order , contributing to Youngstown blight
are incompetent legislators , the voters who keep electing them , tightfisted local banks & insurance companies that "redline" the City so too many people are unable to buy .

If most of the renters are "poor" by Valley standards , this is because the City Council created such a hostile business environment that the City bled jobs over decades .

So ytownsteelman considers 4 1/2 months to be the new standard for organizing major repairs . Let's see this standard being applied fairly & universally - because you only need look at the city to see its not .

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