CoLiving Network building cited again for improper residential use
Grass Valley city staff have again ordered a resident living in a Whiting Street building, owned by CoLiving Network founder Greg Zaller, to vacate after Zaller notified city officials that the resident, a program volunteer, had taken over the facility, denying him access.
“The previous notice we had up there saying you can’t use this building for residential purposes was taken down,” Grass Valley Community Development Director Tom Last said. “We were informed that somebody was living there and so we re-posted a 10-day notice again (last) Tuesday. It’s not set up and safe for residential living, so we’re kind of having to start over a little bit. But the person who’s staying there needs to get out.”
The current violation Zaller is being cited for is not the city’s first attempt at reprimanding him for using the facility illegally as a residence.
CoLiving Network, a series of homes in Nevada County where people in recovery from drugs or alcohol can live, was founded by Zaller.
The Whiting Street building, formerly used as Interfaith Food Ministry, previously housed women only and first opened for residents in September. Residents applied to live in the building and were charged $300 monthly for a room and use of common household amenities.
On Dec. 17, though, after a former resident of the facility complained to Grass Valley Police about the building’s living conditions, the city was notified of possible fire safety violations.
Two days later, Last officially notified Zaller that the Whiting Street building was zoned for commercial use, and did not have the valid permits and approval from the city to run as a residential structure.
Last and city inspectors made an on-site visit to the facility on Dec. 30, and notified Zaller through an emailed letter that he had to move out his residents by Jan. 9, or face administrative penalties of up to $1,000 a day per violation. Steps were never taken to bring the building up to residential zoning code, and Zaller sought to turn the space into a market.
Zaller filed an appeal of the city’s notice of violation, but the building was still red-tagged and the tenants eventually vacated.
One of those tenants, Christine Rice, eventually agreed to volunteer with CoLiving to help with administrative tasks at the facility; Zaller allowed her to live at the Whiting Street building despite the city’s previous notice.
“He told me it was OK to live here as long as we had a business running out of the building,” said Rice.
Zaller, though, says Rice knew the building wasn’t built for residential use; he told her she could sleep there, because he said there was nowhere else for her to go.
“We have this zoning rule that I’m not allowed to use the building as a residence, but I said she could hide there, I said ‘it’s not a residence, (but) you can hide there,’” said Zaller.
On Aug. 10, Zaller gave Rice a 30-day eviction notice asking her to leave the building, though Rice felt he was illegally entering her residence and called the police. Zaller then went to city officials and admitted that he had let someone live in the building.
“We basically had to re-start the noticing,” said Last. “He indicated that he allowed her to stay there, so he’s also at fault here. If it’s the case that he said it was OK with her staying there, then he’s in violation.”
On Aug. 11, city officials red-tagged the building again as a “dangerous structure for residential use,” ordering Rice to leave the facility within 10 days or face misdemeanor charges. Rice says she plans to leave by Friday, but does not have any concrete options for housing other than her car. Zaller says he plans to move forward with turning the building into a market.
“At this point we’re trying to deal with the safety issues and get that addressed,” said Last. “But the big picture issue is somebody is living in an illegal building, and they are occupying it for residential purposes and it’s not designed for that.”
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4236.
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