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'It's extremely frustrating' | Escondido neighborhood says squatters have taken over

“What rights do we have as property owners? It seems like they have all the rights,” said Tom Everest.

SAN DIEGO — An Escondido neighborhood contacted CBS 8, desperate for help.

Squatters have taken over, and they say nothing is being done to force them out. The property is located on El Norte Parkway in Escondido.

"It's extremely frustrating to live next to a property that continues to accumulate not only trash, but vermin has started to show up," said neighbor Michelle Gaano. "There are lots of fights on the property. They've created an outhouse as a restroom," 

According to neighbors, they've been dealing with the issue for nearly two years.

During that time, they've noted visits by police and paramedics, saying someone died of an overdose on the property just two months ago.

"I invite anyone to come down here and take a look at this and then have children and say that's right and that's ok, because it's not," said neighbor Tom Everest.

It all started when the owner of the property died. 

According to documents CBS 8 found, soon after, it went into foreclosure and became the responsibility of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, a government agency that insured the mortgage.

When that happened, the large corner lot property stayed vacant until squatters began showing up.

"It's a beautiful neighborhood and it was beautiful until these people came in and took over. Now, it's next to impossible to get them out," said Gaana.

According to neighbors, a code enforcement officer who has been assigned the case told them due to squatters’ rights, they can't be forced out, at least not yet.

It involves a lengthy legal process. The Escondido City Attorney's office reportedly said they'd have the problem taken care of by February.

“What rights do we have as property owners? It seems like they have all the rights,” said Everest.

CBS 8 has reached out to the City Attorney, as well as HUD, the Escondido Police Department, and the City of Escondido.

The only person who has responded so far is a City of Escondido spokesperson, who referred us to the City Attorney and said we should receive more information on Monday. 

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