MODESTO — Nearly two months ago, the city demolished a fire-ravaged Modesto home and removed the junk that overflowed in the front and side yards to the delight of the middle-class neighborhood, which had complained for months about the property and two brothers who owned it.
But now the brothers who had been living on their property without water, sewer or electric service before the city took action against them are back.
They moved back to their Huntington Drive lot in north central Modesto about two weeks ago. They brought along some of their prized possessions: a 1970s-era recreational vehicle, an even older travel trailer, a faded 1960s Pontiac LeMans, a roughly half-century-old pickup truck, plastic lawn chairs, a barbecue and several potted plants. A temporary chain-link fence surrounds the dirt lot.
The city also is back.
It started a code enforcement action against Brad and Greg Jarrell on March 20. The city soon will send a notice and order to the Jarrells, telling them they are violating city codes by storing property and living on their dirt lot without water, sewer and electricity. The notice and order will give them 20 days to come into compliance or face having the city remove them and their property.
"We've been monitoring them since the house was razed," said Will Crew, Modesto's chief building official. "A code enforcement officer goes out two or three times a week."
The Jarrells could not be reached for comment Friday or Sunday.
Arrested in crackdown
Brad Jarrell, 49, remained in the Stanislaus County Jail on Sunday afternoon after he was arrested Thursday in a police crackdown on illegal gambling at two McHenry Avenue businesses. He was arrested on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine and two warrants and is being held on $75,000 bail.
Greg Jarrell, 50, did not appear to be home Friday or Sunday.
The brothers have been a source of frustration among neighbors for several years. The city initiated several code enforcement actions against them since 2006 for having garbage and debris in their yard and other violations.
But the situation grew worse July 1, when a fire caused $150,000 in damage to their home. The city started a code enforcement action against the brothers Aug. 23 after they had made little progress in repairing their home and clearing the junk and debris, such as bicycle and auto parts, scrap wood and furniture in the front and side yards.
The Jarrells did not have homeowners insurance.
Time ran out for the Jarrells on Feb. 7, when a crew demolished what was left of the home and removed the debris. The city did so after receiving court permission.
The Jarrells' father bought the home 40 years ago, and they inherited it after he died a decade ago. The brothers said in January they were unemployed and making ends meet through recycling, odd jobs, food stamps and help from friends.
But neighbors were suspicious about the many people who visited the Jarrells throughout the day and night, with some staying just a few minutes before leaving by bicycle or car. Greg Jarrell has said he and his brother simply had a lot of friends who liked to visit.
Crew said it could take several months to resolve the current code enforcement action. That's because, as in the last action, the city has to respect the Jarrell's property and due process rights. Those rights include appealing the case to a hearing officer.
On Friday, neighbors said the Jarrells had been living in another Huntington Drive house along with several other people. But that house has been empty for about two weeks.
As in previous stories, neighbors asked that they not be identified.
"It's certainly an issue," one longtime homeowner said about the Jarrells moving back onto their property.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2316.