Graffiti, overgrown weeds, and trash around the Great Mall are in the process of being cleaned up following two abatement notices from Milpitas city officials this summer.
Sharon Goei, the City’s director of building safety and housing, told The Beat that they’ve issued two citations to mall managers totaling $400.
The first case was opened up July 29 with a first citation of $100 issued Aug. 17 and a second citation of $200 issued Sept. 6. The second case was opened up on Aug. 17 and a citation of $100 was issued Sept. 6.
“The Great Mall has not completed full clean-up yet, but we have been noticing progress,” Goei said. “The City will conduct further site inspections and continue to issue citations until compliance is achieved.”
Senior code enforcement officer Zulema Maggi told The Beat that the department issued the notices after multiple complaints from residents who noticed that the landscaping around the mall had fallen to the wayside throughout the pandemic.
With businesses finally reopened, she said that the city is “paying closer attention to shopping malls [and] strip malls,” which might have failed to maintain their grounds for the last year and a half. In the case of the Great Mall, Maggi said that mall managers had let go of some of their landscaping and abatement contracts during the lockdown. She said she could not recall a time when the Great Mall had not kept up with their landscaping or debris pickup contracts.
A spokesperson for the mall, however, declined to comment on the matter, stating that they were “not able to participate” in this story.
The clean-up at the Great Mall is part of a larger effort by the City that Goei said is to “help get back where we were before and try to get businesses back up together and get shoppers and residents active again in the community.”
Mayor Rich Tran posted about the issue on his Facebook page last month, stating the City would “escalate the fines” if the mall didn’t comply. The mayor has been a staunch supporter of Beautify Milpitas –– an initiative created by Vice Mayor Carmen Montano and Councilwoman Evelyn Chua to clean up trash around the city.
The pandemic, he said, has worsened the issue. Just last month, he and some other volunteers had a clean-up day because “the operations of different government entities are not coming around to pick up trash and do weed abatement.”
“I want the folks in City Hall or Sacramento or over at the Valley Water District or any elected official to know that it’s a big issue here in Milpitas,” he added. “It’s not something I want to do, but the issue is here now, and our residents expect a heavy lift, and that’s what I’m doing.”
Tran added that the council has been working on some new ideas surrounding Milpitas’ upkeep. He said the City also plans to hire more public works maintenance workers next month.
“It’s my goal that by Christmas, it will be the holiday spirit here in Milpitas, and all the weeds and landscaping will be taken care of for our Milpitas families,” the mayor said.