Raul Cuero cleans carpets for a living, sometimes 15 hours a day to support his family, he said Wednesday, after the San Diego County Board of Supervisors moved a step closer to tearing his house down.
The soft-spoken man said he puts all his earnings into the modest house he purchased and upgraded for his wife and two children on Bear Valley Parkway in 2000, near Escondido.
Wednesday the board moved forward with plans to seize a handful of properties —- including Cuero’s —- in the path of a $26 million parkway expansion.
The county cited the authority of eminent domain, which allows agencies to take properties during public improvement projects.
Altogether, 18 homes are slated for demolition along a one-mile stretch of the busy roadway, which connects Interstate 15 with south Escondido and Valley Center. An additional 32 homeowners will lose a slice of property.
Cuero, 35, is the only owner who stands to lose his entire property who has yet to reach a deal with the county.
He owes $465,000 on the property, or $90,000 more than the appraised value ($375,000) the county has offered to pay for it, according to county officials.
Should a court agree with the county’s eminent domain authority, Cuero could be without a home and deeply in debt.
“Basically, they’re dropping me on the street,” Cuero told a reporter outside the board’s chambers. “They tell me they don’t want to give me nothing (to cover the balance he owes). Not even half a penny.”
“I can’t even pay a deposit for another house. I really don’t know what to tell my kids about where we’re going to go,” Cuero added.
The county isn’t treating Cuero any differently than the other affected homeowners, officials said on Wednesday.
Legally, they can’t pay Cuero more than the appraised value plus moving expenses, said Debbie Bailey of the county’s real estate services division.
Officials will, however, continue to negotiate with Cuero and the handful of owners who stand to lose part of their property but have not reached a deal, Bailey said.
In Cuero’s case, the county will consider a possible short sale if Cuero’s lender, Chase Bank, agrees to such a move, Bailey added.
A short sale would allow the county to buy the property at a lower price than is owed to the bank but it would damage Cuero’s credit.
Still, Cuero said, a short sale is probably his best hope.
Purchase data on the real estate website www.zillow.com shows the home was last sold in December 2000 for $189,000.
Cuero said an adjustable rate mortgage combined with some refinancing raised his debt. He said his real estate agent in 2000 told him the parkway expansion would affect homes across the street, but not his.
A county spokesman said the county moved road expansion plans 22 feet east about two years ago, but he could not immediately say whether that changed demolition plans as far as Cuero’s home was concerned.
Bailey said public records show Cuero and his wife initiated several refinancings and exchanged ownership of the home since it was first purchased.
Cuero’s case is somewhat unique.
The county compensated several other owners (who owed less on their mortgages) with very good deals, according to an experienced Escondido real estate agent and some price comparisons provided to the North County Times last month.
California’s eminent domain law requires agencies to compensate owners at the high end of fair market value.
The parkway expansion is planned along a one-mile stretch, between Boyle Avenue a few blocks south of Orange Glen High School and Highway 78 farther south. Several other parkway stretches have been widened or are scheduled for expansion in coming years.
Construction on the one-mile stretch is expected to start next June, years after original estimates. County officials said last month that property negotiations were the primary cause of the delayed start.
Motorists can expect construction to last for two years once it begins, officials said.
Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/prweb/20110123/bs_prweb/prweb4993824_1