Burned Pajaro business to be razed, rebuilt

This building at 8 Porter Drive in Pajaro that was destroyed by a fire in January 2017 remains gutted two years later. (Photo by Erik Chalhoub/Register-Pajaronian)

Monterey County requiring compliance by March 31

PAJARO — A little more than two years ago, fire gutted a small appliance repair business just across the Pajaro Bridge, along with an adjacent hair salon.

Now a pile of rubble surrounded by a chain-link fence, the businesses that were Val TV Radio VCR Service and Tamara’s Hair Salon at 8 Porter Drive have sat dormant since then.

But soon, neighbors could see some changes at the property. Francisco Berlanga, part of Berlanga Family Partners, which owns the property, said he is waiting for final permits to begin demolition.

The company, which also owns El Nopal Bakery in Pajaro, is planning to construct a building at the site that will hold businesses that could include a food store, he said.

The prominent location on a busy road at the confluence of neighboring cities, where a sign in the same parking lot welcomes visitors to Pajaro, is troubling to some neighbors.

“It’s unsightly for the community,” said Royal Oaks resident Harry Wiggins, part of the Pajaro Community Action Committee. “The members of the community want something to be done.”

Wiggins said the committee has contacted the Berlanga family, in addition to Monterey County Supervisor John Phillips.

According to Monterey County spokeswoman Maia Carroll, the property owners are working to clear the rubble, and an architect will be submitting a demolition plan by the end of the month.

The property is secured by fencing, broken windows or doors have been boarded and the garbage has been removed. Officials from the Monterey County Resource Management Agency last visited the site on March 6, Carroll said.

That department has required the company to apply for and obtain a demolition permit and to remove the fire damaged structure. They are also required to maintain the property on a regular basis, which includes removing graffiti, overgrown weeds, trash and the non-operable vehicles. 

If the company fails to comply with the county’s demands by the end of March, they will face an administrative hearing in April, Carroll said.

That could result in fines that are retroactive to Oct. 5, 2018, when county officials first contacted the property owner regarding compliance, Carroll said.

According to Carroll, the fines were to be imposed as follows:

• $100 on Oct. 5

• $500 on Oct. 6

• $1,000 on Oct. 7

• $1,000 on Oct. 8, and for each subsequent violation for each and every day thereafter.

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