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Santa Rosa reveals another city-owned house occupied by rent-free tenants

  • 4230 Walker Avenue in Santa Rosa, Calif., on August 22, 2013. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

Santa Rosa officials this week revealed the existence of a second city-owned home occupied by people who haven't paid rent to the city for six years.

The 2.4-acre property on Walker Avenue was purchased by the city in 2007 as part of an effort to create a buffer zone around the city's wastewater treatment plant on Llano Road.

The city bought the home and outbuildings from Mark Bottini for $650,000, allowing him and his immediate family to lease back the property for $1 through July 2010.

But city officials never followed up after 2010, and Bottini has remained in the home rent free, even charging another family rent to live there with him.

The situation is similar to that of Adan and Kimberly Ortiz, who have been living rent-free in a nearby home on Walker Avenue since selling it to the city in 2007. Their arrangement was outlined in a Press Democrat story earlier this month.

The second Walker Avenue home came to light Wednesday after city officials acknowledged the lease had not been not disclosed in response to a public records act request made by The Press Democrat last month.

The request sought review of all leases on city-owned properties with structures. It followed a story in June that described how the city was leasing two rural homes in Roseland for $100 and $200 per month, one of them to a city employee.

The documents released last month included a variety of well known city-owned buildings, such as the Railroad Square Depot, which operates as a visitors center, and the clubhouse at Bennett Valley Golf Course, which is home to Legends Sports Bar and Grill.

They also revealed the Walker Avenue home where Ortiz lived rent-free, as well as a 1-acre Occidental Road property leased since 1998 to a city employee, Denise Cadman, for $500 per month.

Like the two Roseland properties, the Occidental Road site was covered by a "caretakers lease" that provided below-market rent in recognition of the poor conditions of the older homes and the tenants' duties to alert the city to any trouble on the properties.


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