Friday, February 10, 2012

FINAL REPORT FOR FBI: Los Angeles Housing Department Cites & Enforces Building Code, After LOSING Superior Court Ruling [NOW, #1 L.A. CITY RICO/RACKETEERING ISSUE NEEDING INVESTIGATION!!!]

SORRY TO L.A. CITY HALL: You keep me around, too long!

LOS ANGELES CITY ATTORNEY CARMEN TRUTANICH ANNOUNCED (02/09/12), THAT HE IS RUNNING FOR L.A. DISTRICT ATTORNEY. But, after promising voters, not only that he wasn't going to run for D.A., but that he was going to crack down on L.A. City corruption, THIS DECISION WAS ISSUED BY L.A. SUPERIOR COURT in October 2011, that highlights HOW CORRUPT L.A. HOUSING DEPARTMENT CONTINUES TO OPERATE UNDER HIS PERVUE!

AND, THE LAW BREAKING OF LAHD, CONTINUES TO THIS DAY, AND ZUMA DOGG IS PREPARING A REPORT, BASED ON REAL PEOPLE'S STORIES TO TURN OVER TO THE PROPER AUTHORITIES, WHICH I GUESS ISN'T CARMEN TRUTANICH:

AND TO HERB WESSON, ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA & L.A. CITY COUNCIL: YOU KNOW THIS IS THE SINGLE MOST DEVASTATING COURT RULING AGAINST THE CITY, EVER! (Though ZD still likes to think his Venice Beach one was. BUT, he MUST digress to the #2 spot for this one!)


To: Desk Agent
Fr: ZD
Re: Los Angeles Housing Dept Citing and Enforcing Building Code [City LOST Superior Court Ruling.]
Dt: 02/09/2012

As a high-profile Los Angeles City Hall watchdogg/blogger, it has been brought to my attention that the City of Los Angeles lost a Superior Court ruling in October 2011, finding they are not allowed to have the Los Angeles Housing Department (LAHD) cite and enforce L.A. Building and Safety Code.

Property owners have been forced to pay fines; have been denied registration and renewals over this matter; and properties have been put at risk of losing to the City, all while violating the law.

It has also been brought to my attention, that the city continues with this method, in light of the court ruling.

Additionally, an L.A. City building inspector says I should start asking at the L.A. City Council meetings, on-the-record, if LAHD Rent Escrow Account Program (REAP) inspectors have a quota. (When he says, “ask” I believe based on my relationship with this person, that it means, there IS a quota.) If there is a quota, that gives inspectors incentive to cite property owners that may not actually be in violation of any city ordinances, but pressure from the top (quotas, probably “unwritten rule,” which is why my source said, “ask,” instead of handing me the memo”), may force inspectors to place owners into the program, anyway. Cause good paying inspector jobs are hard to find. (A somewhat related issue, as it is also under LAHD regarding enforcement that leads to loss of property to City.)

Here is a description by the court of the issue (along with case number) and some stories from the public that have been brought to my attention. - ZD

CARMEN A. TRUTANICH, City Attorney
200 N. Main Street, Room 916, City Hall East
Los Angeles, CA 90012-4131

Attorney for Defendants, City of Los Angeles and City of L.A. by and through L.A. Housing Dept.

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES - CENTRAL DISTRICT

BARBARA DARWISH, Plaintiff

CASE NO. BC 398784

1. Pursuant to LAMC Section 151.05B (LAMC), Petitioner (Plaintiff) is entitled to writ of mandate because the City has a ministerial duty, under its Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO), to register or renew registration of Petitioner's four rental units on Petitioner's property, upon payment by Petitioner of the fees required to register four units and upon compliance with the requirements of LAMC Section 151.05B.

2. The requirement of registration under LAMC is a revenue measure, not a regulatory measure, the purpose of which i to fund the enforcement costs of the RSO by levying a tax or fee upon a landlord for each unit that the landlord wishes to rent.

3. The City does not authorize its Housing Dept (LAHD) to use the ministerial provisions of the RSO to force a landlord to comply with the City's building code. The building code is to be enforced by utilizing the enforcement provisions contained in that code.

4. LAMC has not been amended, remains in full force and effect, and still requires that the City issue to a landlord, upon the payment of proper fees and the furnishing of an emergency phone number, the registration of rental units.

5. The City cite no legislative enactment that permit City officers or employees to use the RSO to enforce building code. The building code itself has adequate enforcement provision for its enforcement. Nothing in this court's ruling deprives the City of its right to enforce its building code using the legislation enacted to enforce the code.

SUMMARY: Los Angeles Housing Department has been ILLEGALLY denying property owners registrations and renewals of their properties, for BUILDING & SAFETY CODE REASONS, when the court had to remind City that the ONLY issue LAHD may concern themselves with is the fee itself. Adding that if the city wants to bust people on Building & Safety code, they have to have the Building & Safety Department do that, since B & S Dept has their own enforcement system.

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LANDORD STORY #1

Director
LAHD
East Regional Office
2215 North Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90031

Case #XXXXXX
APN XXXXX

Dear Director,

In September 2011, this month, I have received a number of documents related to the case specified above that concerns my property at XXXX Street, Los Angeles 900XX. These  documents are:

1. Received on September 16, Statement #XXXX dated August 31, 2011, Invoice Id XXXXX
This document is a service statement with a payment coupon requesting the amount of $201.50 be paid by September 30, 2011.

2. Received on September 29, 2011, Statement #XXXX, dated September 23, 2011, Invoice Id XXX. This is a service statement with a payment coupon requesting that the amount of $400. be paid by October 24, 2011. Why am I being charged this $400. AIF fee on the same date that Jack Meijer inspected ?

3. Received on September 29, 2011 in same envelope as above, a Failure to Comply notice. This document bears the East Regional Office telephone number, 323-226-9819. I left messages on this number on Sept. 19 and earlier today on Sept. 30. I also attempted to reach Ruby Gonzalez, 323-226-9809, who was referred by the voice message I heard when I called the number above today.

No one has called me back, so I am writing this letter to explain my situation, and to dispute these charges.

Chain of events re this case #XXXX:

1. I received an Inspection Notice announcing an inspection on May 23. The inspection by Inspector Jack Meijer took place on June 9, 2011. The outcome of that inspection was that On June 10 I received a " Notice and Order to Comply " citing several minor violations including replacing smoke detectors that had been disabled by tenants, replacing a missing screen, and replacing 4 GFI receptacles. The notice also requested that I open a stairway in Unit #1. The notice requested that I complete the work cited by July 17. A re-inspection was scheduled for July 21, 2011 and I made sure to correct all the items noted.

2. I met Inspector Meijer on the property on July 21. He did not inspect to assure my compliance. Instead, he gave me a new order to comply, dated July 21, 2011, listing the same violations that appeared on the Order to Comply of June 10 plus listing "unapproved construction" and "unapproved use or occupancy" for Unit #1. Please note that unit #1 was not occupied at this time. Further, this Order listed "unapproved construction approved use 6, current use 8." This order also requested that I secure a "department letter from building and safety" determining the "number of approved buildings and useage". The re-inspection date was noted as August 30, 2011.

3. During the following week I went to the LA DBS on Figueroa St. I was informed that the process to obtain a zoning letter was slow and that I would not obtain it by the re- inspection date of August 30.

4. On August 30, the scheduled re-inspection date, Inspector Jack Meijer inspected the property and signed off on all the minor violations that I had corrected by July 21. During this inspection, Unit #XX and Unit #XX were not occupied. I informed Inspector Meijer that I could not obtain the letter from DBS because of the time constraint.

5. In August I met with Kai Newkirk In the office of Councilman Jose Huizar of the 14th District where my property is located. Mr. Newkirk arranged a meeting between LA DBS Inspector Mark Van Slooten and me. I met Inspector Van Slooten at his office on September 8. On the afternoon of Sept 8 I met Inspector Van Slooten at the property, where he determined that my documents relating to the number of registered units on the property coincided with what he observed on his inspection. On Sept. 9 Inspector Van Slooten issued a Field Report headed case # 428113 verifying these observations. I presented these notes to LAHD to James Heiberg in his office on Sept. 15 because he told me that he was not satisfied with Van Slooten's determination, and suggested that I get a letter from Mr. Dakarai Smith of DBS Office of Engineering determining the actual number of units. Mr. Heiberg also informed me that I was in a queue to acquire a hearing date that could take at least two to three weeks and
maybe more. Mr. Heiberg further added that if I received a letter from Mr. Dakarai Smith before I received a hearing date that no hearing would be necessary.

6. I spoke with Mr. Smith on Sept. 15. Mr. Smith advised me to file a zoning application with his Department. I did so on September 21, 2011. Included in my application were maps, building permits, property tax bills, and statements of registration for seven units, statement of annual bill from the City of Los Angeles for seven units, and other documents. Even though I paid an expedited fee of over $300., I was informed that a determination could take months. I have yet to receive a response.

After reading the above, I am sure you will appreciate my frustration in attempting to resolve the matter. Not only have I paid considerable money, but also I have expended much time and effort in appearing for inspections, traveling from office to office and making follow up calls to numerous people. In face-to-face meetings with various officials, I have been treated very
respectfully. I am peddling as fast as I can in an attempt to meet your demands but I don't feel that I am being heard. The stress of this activity is wearing on my health. My income as a landlord is negatively affected. In over twenty years as owner of this property, I have complied with numerous inspections without a citation. This matter began with a complaint by a (allegedly clinically disturbed)tenant, in retaliation for an eviction. Now I am being punished unfairly for offenses that I am guilty of in the eyes of this former tenant. As a property owner, tax-payer and small business man, I am shocked and disappointed by this treatment.

At the request of Mr. Kai Newkirk, I will keep the Office of Councilman Huizar informed of my progress.

Yours truly,

Zuma Dogg Fan!



MORE STORIES FROM L.A. CITY PROPERTY OWNERS (I would imagine there are 100’s more, like these.):

My aunt was the owner of a triplex in Los Angeles. Unit is not a rental unit as it is being used by a family member in financial need. For the last ten years my aunt was fighting the Parkinson's disease and finally passed on Aug 18, 2010. I, Tomas  took my aunt to live with me for the last five years to provide all the necessary medical attention and care she needed. In the mean time she did not raise the rents for the tenants for the last 17 years. And I have become the new owner of the building

In October 2009 the LAHD put her property in REAP. The LAHD sent notice to her previous address so we never knew anything about any violations until I went to collect the rents. The reason for REAP was for minor violations and the painting of the outside of the building. Immediately the tenants were informed that they should pay 50% of the rent to the LAHD, and that LAHD will keep all the rent money until all deficiencies are corrected. For a one bedroom they paid $177.50 (half of the $355 monthly rent) and for the 2-bedroom renters paid $289.50 (half of the $579 monthly rent). This continued for approximately six months because I was laid-off from work and had to collect unemployment leaving me with little financial resources to pay for my living expenses, and the added responsibility to make repairs and to paint the whole building.

After I completed all the repairs, the LAHD (REAP) office informed me that I would have to wait another 4 weeks to get the property out of REAP. The property was out of REAP in May 2010. This REAP exercise cost me a bundle of money. Between the $50 monthly administrative cost per unit, the reduced rents, repairs, penalties and fees my cost exceeded $15,000. For a “Mon & Pa” unemployed person this was a monumental amount of money and a difficult task to complete. It took me six months to borrow the money and complete all repairs. I was able to borrow the money and satisfy the LAHD/REAP unfair rules and regulations.

I still have problems with the monthly rents I collect as it is way below (less than 50%) of on-going fair and equitable rent for similar apartments. I still have to wait until June 2011 before I can do anything with the rent and the situation does not look favorable to me. The LAHD says that I must wait at least one year after the property is out of REAP before rents can be adjusted.

When I visited the LAHD to get assistance resolving the REAP situation, and the low rent tenants pay, they were anti-landlord. They told me that I should talk to my lawyer as it is my problem not theirs. They were reluctant to explain thing to me. It appears that they only want to help the renters taking advantage of the landlord/property owner.

This whole situation created a big financial burden that nearly broke me. This situation has left me with a resentful feeling and as soon as I can, I will sell the building and move my business out of Los Angeles county.

###

I'm a somewhat new landlord and own a couple apartments near downtown Los Angeles.  They are vintage 1920s apartments and I keep them very well maintained.  My tenants are happy and I have no problems or complaints from them.  It has been a good situation until LAHD got involved a couple months ago.

My problems started at the end of 2011 with my first routine inspection by the LAHD inspector.  Long story short, they want me to demolish a large portion of my building even though I have a permit for it and it has been there since 1937.  I had a contractor come look at it and he said it is structurally sound, and tearing it down would actually cause the building to become unsafe.  However, LAHD says it needs to go.

I am looking for a lawyer to help me deal with LAHD.  I have been trying to make this community a better place, and LAHD is making it so hard to be a landlord in Los Angeles that I am tempted to sell and leave the whole business.  They are harassing me and sending me piles of threatening mail non-stop.  I can't imagine why anyone would want to be a landlord in Los Angeles with this type of mafia organization attacking them at every turn.

If you know of any lawyers who specialize in LAHD I would love to get a referral.

Thank you very much,

Ms. R.

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I have been jumping thru hoops for LAHD since May. Each time I jump they say jump higher. Last Tuesday I had a LAHD Hearing where I was led to believe that I would be able to show my documents, letters of support, permits etc. to the Hearing officer.

Helen Morales was mean spirited, hostile, and argumentative. I was left dumbfounded. An attorney, Andy Baker accompanied me to the hearing, he said That I got off easy because I was given 10 days to present a plan to LAHD of how long it would take to convert 2 of my units back to 1923 original construction..

Attached is a letter that I wrote and sent to various city officials early last month just to let you know what is going on. I'm sure you have heard it all before as I read about cases on your website.

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