SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Dozens of businesses in a Sacramento County strip mall were forced to shut down over safety and building code violations. Some tenants were given just minutes to secure their businesses and leave.
“You better get everything from your building, cause they’re evacuating,” said Albertina Mendez.
That was the urgent message church leaders with Casa De Oracion — one of the roughly 50 tenants part of the Town and Country West building on Fulton Avenue — got from a business next door just hours before their Wednesday night service.
“There was security here with us and we had to just grab our cameras, sound systems, and get out,” said Mendez.
“All of a sudden they told us all to evacuate,” said Dariy Bek, owner of High Tech Repair.
With no warning, business owners say they were shocked to see notices from the fire marshal and county slapped on their doors.
“I’m, sad, disappointed, upset, upset they haven’t been maintaining [the] building,” said Raimond Irimence with Paul’s Watch and Clock Repair.
The fire safety and building code violations were so severe, it had to be shut down immediately.
“There were too many violations and too many structural issues not intact,” said Capt. Chris Vestal with Sac Metro Fire.
The issues included fire sprinklers not working to a railing on the second floor that was close to collapsing.
“Yes, a lot of safety issues, with our ramps, the stairs, also the elevator,” said Bek.
Just one week ago, the city forced dozens of Sacramento artists out of their studios over building code violations, which made us wonder if these crackdowns were part of an increased enforcement effort and tenants wondered why they weren’t caught sooner.
“If the building was that unsafe, why didn’t we know anything about it?” asked Mendez.
Sac Metro Fire says there are no ramped-up inspections by the county. In fact, this building doesn’t even have a mandated inspection by the fire district. The county just happened to find these violations only after a special event permit required a site inspection.
“Without that special event being applied for we would not have been on site,” said Vestal
Now these tenants, many immigrant owned, are left in a state of limbo, taking a big financial hit, and worried about their livelihood.
“Everyday that the doors are shut we’re losing a lot of customers,” said Irimence.
The only place open is the post office- fire officials say the same enforcement can’t apply because it’s a federal facility.
But the big question is how long will these businesses be shut down?
County officials say It’s all dependent on the property owner- and how soon he gets going to fixing these violations.
A meeting with owners and fire officials is planned for Thursday at 1:30.