What do you do when the bank-owned house next door is a vacant and blighted mess? If you're these San Diego residents, you remove the garbage piled out front and take it to its rightful owner: the bank itself.
The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, a homeowner advocacy group, gathered dirty rugs, furniture and other items that had been piling up in the backyard of a vacant home in San Diego, and "deposited" them at the storefront of a local Bank of America branch, the reported owner of the home. The protest was organized to raise awareness for the proposed Property Value Protection Ordinance, which would force banks to enter all of their foreclosures in a registry. The measure would hold banks accountable for maintaining their homes or face $1,000-a-day fines.
"People are cleaning out their yards and throwing stuff in there," Clara Lorrabaquio, who lives near the vacant home, told U-T San Diego. "The windows on the side of the house are broken. I've seen people just going in and out of the house. We don't know who these people are."
The BofA branch was closed in anticipation of the protest, so the protesters dumped a couch, desk, and other garbage out front with signs reading: "This garbage property of Bank of America."
"We've left the trash here and are notifying the bank of the address and asking them to clean it up," protest organizer David Lagstein told KPBS in San Diego. "And [we're] continuing to ask the City Council to prevent this from happening and pass the Property Value Protection Ordinance."
The ordinance is scheduled for a full City Council vote this fall.
"When people call and report [unmaintained properties]," Lagstein told NBC San Diego, "somebody actually goes out and responds. What a concept: City government responds to citizens' complaints. That's all we're asking, and I think it's really doable."
Some other recent "trash deposit" protests of unmaintained Bank of America properties have included: one in September 2011, when protesters in Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood collected trash bags from an abandon home and dumped them at the home of Bank of America's president; and the next month in Chicago, as five women, including an 80-year-old, were arrested for dumping garbage in front of Bank of America offices, protesting the buildup of trash at vacant buildings.
Last July, Bank of America dodged a bullet when protesters in San Jose, Calif., mistakenly dumped garbage from a foreclosed home in the lobby of a Wells Fargo branch -- even though the foreclosure was owned by BofA.
View more videos at: http://nbcsandiego.com.
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