The Center’s Cultural Work: “The Little Cottage that Looked Back”


The Little Cottage that Looked Back

This is a public expression of the ongoing events related to the Sea Ranch rental scam at 39654 Leeward Road owned by John T. and Anita Taylor.

Only openness, transparency, and accuracy can create democratic norms and practices, and the Center’s cultural work is in that service.

“The Little Cottage that Looked Back” cultural work project also included assisting the former occupant of the property and will be described in the article, “Loosening the Soil: The Cultural Work Part of U.S. Rural Cultures Studies,” available late spring 2020. It is also a case study in The Human Basis of Democracy: Power-Sharing and Everyday Authoritarianism in U.S. Rural Cultures, available Spring 2021.

Documentation and reports sponsored by The Center for U.S. Rural Cultures Studies.


Complaint and Lease Value Assessment (Preparation began Oct 2018)

The current complaint against John T. and Anita Taylor is below. The Taylors owe the current occupant–Cathy B Glenn–$11,207.56 after February’s rent payment. That report is below.

LEASE VALUE ASSESSMENT

39654 LEEWARD ROAD, SEA RANCH, CALIFORNIA 95497

  • Occupant’s Annual Out-of-Pocket Expenses and Time:
  • Annual PGE overpayment: 1200.00 (1)
  • Annual maintenance and repairs: 2700.00 (2)
  • Total Annual “Lease” overpayment: 18,000.00 (3)
  • Total occupant labor: 10,250.00 (4)
  • Total Security + last month’s rent: 6500.00
  • Total annual occupant expenses and time: 38,650.00 (5)
  • Total recovered by occupant (as of 9/26/2019): 20,231.67

Total Owed Occupant:                       18,418.33

1. Based on average usage for 1 person in an energy-efficient 1-bedroom apartment in 95497. Documentation provided upon legal request.

2. 495:fence lumber, 600:pete’s glass, 300:stove inspection, 170:tom’s plumbing, 200:fallen branches vendor tree work, 150:vendor property maintenance, 200:vendor tree maintenance, 85: junk haul, 500: fallen fence, total:2700. Documentation provided upon legal request.

3. Total claimed annual leased property value: $3000 x 12 = 36,000.00. Based on 7 comparable properties + comparable original rented condition = rental value: $1500.00 per month x 12 = 18,000.00 actual annual rental value. Documentation provided upon legal request.

4. See letter to Taylors dated 14 December 2018.

5. “Real Property Value Increase” and “Real Health, Safety, and Quality of Life Impacts” reports to follow by October 31, 2019.

___________________________________________

Leased Property Analysis and Cost to Occupant Report

39654 Leeward Road, Sea Ranch, 94597

Open on-going file; file opened 15 October 2018

This report contains (1) a description of the condition at time of occupancy of leased property at 39654 Leeward, SR, 95497; (2) a record of landlord responses to reported conditions offered by John T. and Anita Taylor (hereafter “Taylors”), (3) a list of occupant actions; and, (4) an analysis of real costs, labor, time, and quality of life impacts to occupant (to be delivered with final report).

I.          Description of Leased Property Condition

A.        Windows

a.         Very large dining room and upstairs bedroom stationary windows are falling out. Grout and wood rot on top have loosened the windows, making them a hazard for persons occupying the property. Significant energy loss and water leakage.

b.         Livingroom area sliding windows have large gaps, easily put two fingers between; significant air leakage and energy loss. Large stationary windows are single-pane; significant energy loss.

c.         Large stationary window in “dining” area is single-pane; significant energy loss.

d.         Upstairs bedroom sliding window has large gaps, easily put two fingers between; significant air leakage and energy loss. Large stationary window is single-pane; significant energy loss.

e.         House bathroom (left) sliding window installed incorrectly, does not close; significant energy loss. High probability of mold formation.

f.          Termite infestation in rotted, front corner window frames. Termite infestation in rotted, “dining” area right side window frame.

B.        Trees

a.         Neglect and deferred maintenance throughout property. Back “yard” area partially covered by very large, overgrown tangle of live cypress and downed pine. Garbage accumulation under tangle, very old (likely left by raccoons).

b.         Side “yard” trees’ branches low-hanging; two branches in danger of falling on persons or vehicles below.

c.         Front “yard” trees–adjacent large front windows—several low-hanging, weakened branches in danger of falling on persons or structure below/adjacent. Low-hanging branches block window view of ocean. [Weak branches fell on the front of the house and window during a storm.]

d.         Tree branches over back deck low-hanging and dangerously heavy when wet for persons using the deck as intended.

C.        Fencing

a.         Unstable driveway fencing.

b.         Rotted fence surrounding back deck area.

D.        Decks, Walkways, and Driveways

a.         Front entrance walkway and deck boards rotting and unstable. Accumulated soil has made the wood slick and dangerous when it rains. Lack of deck drainage causes water to accumulate and stand, creating a danger to persons using the walkway and deck as intended.

b.         Back deck has numerous loose boards, 3 unstable breaking boards, and one very large hole in the connection between the main house and converted garage. All are a danger to persons.

c.         Spa deck boards rotted, broken, unstable, and dangerous for persons to use as intended.

d.         Driveway near house: gravel down to mud. Taylors notified that tracked mud would destroy occupant’s white rugs. Taylors made no effort to add gravel.

E.         Heating

a.         One electric heat source in living area non-functional; second source works after occupant repair. Fireplace in living room inoperable.

b.         Bathroom heater in converted garage inoperable; no heat source.

F.         Appliances

a.         Kitchen appliances out-of-date and energy inefficient. Refrigerator and freezer have significant air leaks and energy waste. Stove and oven out-of-date. Evidence of fire in oven. Electric stove filaments unstable and uneven, decreasing functionality. Dishwasher fittings rusted and missing, decreasing functionality. (See pge energy analysis)

b.         All laundry appliances out-of-date and energy/water inefficient. Washer leaks under house. (See SR Water). Washer is an extreme economical model and has no center bar, which tangles and damages occupant’s clothing. (Taylors notified of damage.) Dryer performs poorly or not at all. Water heater uses excessive energy.

c.         Spa on back deck runs continually; no energy efficient setting. Poorly fitted cover allows significant energy loss.

G.        Lighting

a.         The kitchen lights above the stove are loose, and the bulbs cannot be replaced and are inoperable. The electrical issues are unknown. The track lights in the kitchen are misaligned and do not operate correctly.

b.         There is no working light in the laundry closet.

H.        Septic Tank & Spa Ground

a.         During the warmer spring, summer, and fall months, the waste odor from the septic tank is very strong and unpleasant.

b.         The ground under the spa is saturated and a breeding ground for mosquitoes. In the spring, the mosquitos began flying up through the rotted, broken boards during spa use.

I.          Junk

a.         “Taylors” abandoned old patio furniture on the deck.

b.         “Taylors” attempted to bully Dr. Glenn into leaving old furniture stored in the loft in the converted garage/bedroom. They claimed they couldn’t get it out, and insisted it be stored in Dr. Glenn’s living space.

II.        Taylors Communication: Repairs and Notifications

A.        Windows. Taylors were notified by previous occupant (name withheld for privacy) of below-standard windows. Taylors took no action to repair or replace faulty single-pane windows, even when occupant reported mold growth. Taylors also notified by current occupant and no action to repair or replace windows.

B.        Trees. Prior to occupancy, John T. Taylor claimed falsely that Sea Ranch was responsible for tree maintenance. Further, he provided false information to the occupant that the property line existed in a place it does not. Further, he claimed falsely that there was no danger from falling branches anywhere on the property. Further, he insisted falsely that the large, heavy low-hanging branches above the deck were not a danger. The Taylors did not make any effort to maintain trees near the structure, nor did they make any effort to maintain tree safety near the structure.

C.        Fencing. Prior to occupancy, Taylors made no effort to repair or replace rotted or unstable fencing around the back deck or in the car

D.        Decks and Walkways. Taylors were notified of front the walkway’s and the back deck’s broken, loose, and rotting boards. Taylors also notified of the mostly rotted boards on the spa deck. Taylors were also notified of broken boards and subsequent hole in connector. Taylors make no effort to repair any of the reported conditions.

E.         Heating. Taylors were notified of both the broken electric heater in the living room and the broken wood stove. Taylors recommended inspection of the wood stove, but offered no repair of either the stove or the electric heater.

F.         Appliances. Taylors were notified by previous occupant and Dr. Glenn that the stove, oven, refrigerator, water heater, and clothes dryer are out-of-date and energy inefficient. (During the occupant-initiated walk-through, Mr. Taylor joked that the refrigerator would not be replaced “until it died.”)

G.        Lighting. The occupant did not notify “Taylors” because the Taylors consistently demonstrated a lack of care, concern, or honesty.

H.        Septic Tank & Spa Ground. The occupant did not notify “Taylors” because they consistently demonstrated a lack of care, concern, or honesty.

I.          Junk. “Taylors” were notified to remove junk furniture or it would be removed at their cost. John T. Taylor stopped by briefly, to take a hose and roller, and left the rest of the junk for the occupant to remove.

III.       Taylors Communication: Specific Pre- and Post-Occupation Issues

A.        John T. Taylor falsely claimed to be the “property manager” the first time the occupant contacted him about the property. He was also listed as the property manager, along with a picture (that was subsequently removed after Dr. Glenn asked about it). The property was listed on Zillow as a regular rental, but the Taylors attempted to store old furniture in it (like a vacation rental). Dr. Glenn insisted it be removed. (Zillow has been notified about this property listing.)

B.        John T. Taylor falsely claimed that he would have “professionals” empty, clean, and prepare the property prior to occupancy. Instead, the Taylors took 10 days to prepare the property rather than the 1 or 2 days professionals would have taken. John T. Taylor claimed falsely he would have the carpets installed during the last days of the previous occupants’ tenancy. Instead, more than 3 week delay followed that falsehood. Each misrepresentation or withholding of information forced further short-term rental expenses to occupant.

C.        Anita Taylor falsely claimed that while living in the residence, the neighboring house was built, “blocking our view of the ocean.” The neighboring house was built in 2004. The Taylor’s mortgaged occupancy began in 2007. What Ms. Taylor claims cannot be true.  

D.        Dr. Glenn was concerned the information the Taylors were offering was inaccurate, perhaps even intentionally misrepresentative. Dr. Glenn challenged Mr. Taylor before taking occupancy: she directly asked him if he was lying about several issues. Mr. Taylor threatened to not rent to Dr. Glenn, claiming he “wouldn’t even be talking” to her “if it weren’t for the house.” He forced her to agree he was telling the truth under threat of not leasing to her. The documentation in this report supports the claim that Mr. Taylor was misrepresenting information then, even about his own misrepresentations.

E.         John T. Taylor listed on the previous occupant’s security deposit itemization Dr. Glenn’s labor, re: tree work, garbage removal, and junk furniture removal. Mr. Taylor misrepresented to the previous occupant that he had paid Dr. Glenn for that labor. Mr. Taylor grossly underestimated the current occupant’s real labor costs. Mr. Taylor paid nothing to the current occupant for tree work.

F.         Before Dr. Glenn took possession of 39654 Leeward Road, SR, CA 95497, John T. Taylor prepared a document he referred to as a “lease.” The document is a vacation rental agreement. It has no legal standing in the current occupant’s tenancy, nor does it obligate the occupant relinquish the property on the date listed.

G.        On June 22, 2019, John T. Taylor came to 39654 Leeward Road without notice to the occupant. Mr. Taylor attempted to provoke the occupant by encouraging her to assault him so that he could file legal action. (The occupant encouraged him to file without responding to Mr. Taylor’s provocation.) Mr. Taylor proceeded to inspect the outside of the property and peer into windows without notification or consent of the occupant. Mr. Taylor then continued his harassment, claiming the grasses (he called them “weeds”) were a “fire hazard” and complaining to the gardener across the street.

a.         Mr. Taylor claimed he emailed the occupant 24 hours prior to the visit. No email exists.

b.         Before occupancy, Mr. Taylor claimed that the TSRA will “get on you” about cutting the grasses. This is a misrepresentation intended to compel occupants to pay for their own property maintenance or use their own labor.

c.         Mr. Taylor’s terminology, “weeds” not “grasses” is further evidence the Taylors never occupied the property, as they’ve claimed to previous occupants. (“occupancy narrative”)

IV.       Occupant Actions

A.        Dr. Glenn arranged to have the two large windows that were falling out replaced.

B.        Dr. Glenn attempted to make the other leaky windows less leaky and more energy efficient.

C.        Dr. Glenn attempted to seal out the termites with spackling after killing and cleaning up all the flying termites.

D.        Dr. Glenn completed all the tree work behind the house, clearing the significant tangle and cleaning up the garbage.

E.         Dr. Glenn sustainably maintains the grasses, without using pesticides or herbicides and without destroying the habitat and food of the other animals who live here.

F.         Dr. Glenn removed the thistle from the property.

G.        Dr. Glenn trimmed the trees in front of the house.

H.        Dr. Glenn cut the dangerous branches over the deck.

I.          Dr. Glenn cleaned up, laid chips, and landscaped the fenced-in deck area.

J.         Dr. Glenn arranged for dangerous tree limb removal in front of the house after it fell on the house during a storm.

K.        Dr. Glenn built a fence around the rotted back fence.

L.         Dr. Glenn arranged for removal of “Taylors” abandoned junk.

M.       Dr. Glenn arranged to have the broken, fallen parking spot fence repaired.

N.        Dr. Glenn arranged for chip delivery 5 times, spread the chips, and filled in the mudhole parking spots.

O.        Dr. Glenn arranged for inspection of broken wood stove.

P.         Dr. Glenn repaired electric heater.

Q.        Dr. Glenn continues to document.