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Happy ending for S'side resident intent on renovating family home

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This house on Loretta Street in a Sunnyside industrial zone was built in 1935 by Rick Espinoza's father. Espinoza is in the process of renovating the house.

Most people probably wouldn't want to live in an industrial zone. The noise and traffic of several 24-hour operations would be too much for some.

Not for Rick Espinoza, though. He is planning on renovating the house his father built in 1935 on Loreta Street in Sunnyside.

"This house has sentimental value to me," Espinoza said.

The renovation almost didn't happen.

Espinoza got a permit from the city to replace the trusses and put on a new roof. He also wanted to re-do the footing of the foundation on the back wall of the house.

After having an engineer come to his house and design and plan the work, Espinoza went to the city of Sunnyside and received the work permit to do the job.

When the city came out to inspect the footing, he was told there wasn't enough room for the job and that he should contact his engineer. The city said if the engineer said it was OK, Espinoza could continue.

The engineer came back out and said there was enough space for the footing, but she then noticed there wasn't adequate footing on the front wall and told Espinoza he would have to replace that.

Plans were revised and then taken back to the city, where Espinoza ran into another problem. His costs for the project exceeded the amount he was allowed to spend on renovations each year.

People can only spend 25 percent of the value of the structure being worked on for each year. The city, using an appraisal by the county's assessor, had the house listed as being worth $33,200. Using this value, the city said he could only spend $8,300 on improvements so they told him to stop working on the house.

Espinoza was told that if he wanted to spend more than that amount he would have to file for a conditional use permit. This permit would allow him to spend as much as wanted to renovate the house his father built.

Espinoza then ran into another snag. The city would rather he not renovate a house in an industrial area, preferring to let the land be used for industry. He was told if he filed for the permit, the city would recommend to the Board of Adjustment, the body that decides approval of these permits, to deny the request.

Mike Storms, building official for the city of Sunnyside, said the Board of Adjustment doesn't have to follow the advice of city staff, but the board does ask for their recommendation. He said he felt it would be better for all parties concerned if Espinoza didn't renovate his house in the industrial zone.

Espinoza claimed his house was worth more than what the county had assessed it at. He was told by Storms he needed to show some documentation supporting his claim.

Espinoza said he had his house appraised several months ago and finally had his mortgage company send a copy of the appraisal to the city.

This cleared everything up pretty quickly. The city then recognized Espinoza's house was worth $59,487, allowing him to spend up to $14,871 on renovations each year. The city then issued Espinoza another permit so he can continue his work.

"We don't write the rules and regulations," Storms said. "We just get paid to enforce them. We enforce them fair and equally to everyone."

Espinoza holds no hard feelings towards the city although he does admit to feeling like he was given the run-around. He's now planning on doing the work needed. He thinks it will take about three years to do all the renovations needed to still stay within the 25 percent rule.

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