Fresno business owner calls on city to help with homeless response

Homeless vagrants have been causing problems at a central Fresno business for several years. The Fresno Businessman thinks the city needs to do more to help him out.

Fresno business owner Raffi Pilavian has had an issue with homeless vagrants breaking into his property, stealing materials from his business and lighting fire to one of his buildings. 

While he has dealt with Caltrans regarding a shared fence along the Highway 180 embankment, Pilavian would like to see the city step up and provide more help. 


The backstory: Pilavian owns International Torque Converters, which is located on N. Abby St. adjacent to Highway 180 and has been there since 1975. 

  • The business started having issues with the homeless over the last six to seven years, resulting in one of his buildings being torched on Aug. 12. 
  • Vagrants have been accessing Pilavian’s business from the adjacent Highway 180 embankment, cutting through the chain link gates and fencing that belong to Caltrans. 
  • Caltrans fixed the gates and fence last week, but Pilavian fears the issue will continue since the state has fixed its fence several times in the past only for vagrants to cut through it yet again. 

The big picture: Along with his requests to Caltrans, Pilavian has also pleaded with the city for help dealing with the homeless, but has run into a problem with getting the city to clear out all of the junk that has been left behind. 

  • Pilavian recently called the city to help clear out the homeless from his property. A city employee came out and asked the homeless to leave and called the police for support. 
  • However, vagrants left their belongings behind, which Pilavian described as junk. 
  • A city employee told Pilavian that he will be billed by the city if he keeps requesting services from the city’s homelessness department. 
  • A spokesperson for the city told The Sun that the city does not charge to clear out the homeless from businesses. The city does charge for abatements, however, which is when the city cleans up rubbish and debris that are left behind. 

What they’re saying: “I’ve been dealing with the city lately, and I don’t think they care at all,” Pilavian said. 

  • Pilavian said in past instances the city would wait around until the homeless would pack up their belongings and leave but did not do so the last time he called, instead just waiting for the homeless people to leave his property even though Pilavian said they would return after the city left. 
  • He feels that the city is putting the blame on himself for the recurring situation. 
  • “I think the main blame is the state, and then the city does have their faults too, because they’re not responding to my calls when I need them,” Pilavian said. “They should work together, the state and the city.” 
  • When asked if he contacted any elected officials for help, Pilavian said, “I’m running a business. I’m short-handed. I’ve got to work like a dog here. I can’t find employees. I can’t just stop every day and write emails to these people. They know the problem exists. They know it’s there, and they’re not doing anything about it. Absolutely nothing.” 
  • The city spokesperson told The Sun that Pilavian has been responsive as a property owner and a good partner to the city’s response to homeless-related matters. 
  • “The City does not provide rubbish removal services on private property; removal of junk and debris is the responsibility of the private property owner,” the spokesperson said. “In our work with Mr. Pilavian, he as done a good job of taking responsibility for the removal of rubbish and debris, and we are pleased with the progress we are making, in partnership with CalTrans, to address the issues on and near his business.” 
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