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Whodunit Chapter Seven: Who’s killing my neighborhood?

The wheels of justice turn slowly and awkwardly at best and that’s little consolation to the victims of lawless behavior.

It all seemed so simple those many months ago when when my neighbors found out the foreclosed home nearby was being converted into a three-unit tenement — three kitchens, four baths, more than a dozen rooms in all — in 2,000 square feet.

Last month, the city charged the ownersThumbnail image for 18853haynes.jpg of the property at 19953 Haynes St. in Woodland Hills with four misdemeanor crimes — illegal use of land, illegal occupancy, construction without a permit and failure to comply — and gave them six weeks to appear in court.

Wednesday was their day in court. They didn’t show up, Their lawyer didn’t call. Warrants were issued for their arrest.

So tonight nothing has changed. There are still five or six cars in the driveway, the neighbors are still upset at seeing the modest stake in paradise being trashed by ineffective city policies and Kashi the dog  still is chained in front of the house and has my dog Bruno so scared he looks the other way when we walk by.

I learned in recent months that this kind of thing is going on all over the city and not enough is being done about it. Most of the time neighbors have to get together and make a big stink to get action.

While City Hall is saving us from second-hand smoke in the parks and taking money for the visual blight of 24-hour-a-day monster flashing electronic billboards, neighborhoods all over the city are being turned into slums.

I went to court in Van Nuys today to see how the system works when these defendants — Nady Madhavi who bought the house in January and flipped it in May and something called Fidelity Investments LLC of Bellflower, the third owner in six months — were due to enter their pleas.

I watched prostitues and druggies and abusers of animals and wives went before Magistrate Rebecca Omens one after another, most of them needing two or three months to pay fines and costs of $200 or so.

And I watched Deputy City Attorney Donald Cocek, with two Building and Safety officials standing by, deal with one case after another and patiently take time to talk to people accused of violating Building and Safety laws and regulations.

His goal was to get the problem fixed, to get people to comply with the rules, get permits and fix up their properties to code. There was a man who needed a Thai interpreter, one who needed a Korean interpreter, a third who needed a Spanish interpreter.

These were people who didn’t understand the rules, who weren’t turning single family homes into tenements, who weren’t destroying the quality of life in their neighborhoods for profit. Cocek has a 100 percent compliance record in these cases.

My case was different and he was surprised no one showed up for it. But he’s just the guy who handles the case in court, the guy who asks the judge to issue the arrest warrants. The Building and Safety guys just enforce the code.

Nobody, as far as this sleuth has been able to determine, actually investigates the relationships between the the three different owners this year of the house at 19953 Haynes Street. Nobody looks for the patterns, the larger abuses. And nobody can do anything about it as the clock keeps ticking and the rent keeps flowing in at the rate of about $5,000 a month.

The wheels of justice move slowly and the neighborhood’s resentment over this nuisance keeps growing and City Hall keeps fiddling around while the city burns.

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7 Responses to Whodunit Chapter Seven: Who’s killing my neighborhood?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Ron, I feel your pain for the problems that have occured in your neighborhood with this house. I have formed a group that works with Building and Safety to address these very issues and I have to say we have had a wonerful compliance rate. This group should be a role model for the rest of the city. I never realized how much work these guys do and get blamed for a lot of issues that they have no control over. It is very frustrating and at times seems futile but I can say that we have gained so much respect for the hard work that the inspectors do.

  2. anonymous says:

    Sounds great, but how can this be a role model for the rest of the city if you are anonymous and don’t say how the group works??????

  3. Sandy Sand says:

    Don’t forget the ban on mylar balloons, homeless sleeping wherever they want, minding our diets and banning junk food joints…blah, blah, blah.
    The last I heard, Dennis Zine lived almost due north of Ron in West Hills. I don’t know if his district ends at Victory Boulevard, but we can be guaranteed, that if this violation were on his street, it would have disappeared months ago.
    I’ll bet there aren’t any potholes on his street either.
    I’m curious: My small family has the identical number of and color combo of cans that are pictured.
    Three of the four cans get parked in the gutter every week, and half the time all four get dragged out.
    If those are all the trash cans all those people put out every week, I don’t even want to think about what kind of health hazards are going on inside that house or in the back yard.
    I hate seeing a dog chained up all day; it makes my toes curl. It’s cruel. Maybe he’s out front because there’s too much trash in the back and no room for him or he makes a mess of the mess that’s out back.

  4. Anonymous says:

    At the Bastille Day event, Dennis Zine told me that the law has been changed, if someone owns a property he can do what he wants with it – tenement, Home Depot, Palm Reader. There are no zones anymore.
    Was the City Charter changed? Are R1 neighborhoods no longer protected? I don’t think so. I think Dennis Zine is mistaken.
    I think the City Council is mistaken, I am in Smith’s district and have an illegal multiple dwelling next door to me. I think that “MISTAKEN” is a kind word. Do you think “money” is a better term? I suspect it is.
    The present occupants of city hall ought to be put on notice, shape up or YOU ARE OUT!

  5. Anonymous says:

    This the first paragraph of a story about the change in laws about dog chaining in Calfornia. I am surprised that no one before ever mentioned this- or that a complaint was not earlier made. But it’s a toss-up on whether the dog will be cared for better by the owner after being cited or just given up to go to a shelter and maybe not be too adoptable- but the dogs can craving attention, too, from the treatment and be good with people. But the way is is now should change.
    “Anti-Chaining Laws Protect Dogs and People”
    People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – PETA
    November 09, 2006
    By Emily Allen
    Last month, California became the third state in the country to pass a statewide law restricting chaining. The bill, which outlaws the tethering of dogs for more than three hours a day, was signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who stated that it “helps protect dogs from cruelty and enhances public safety by preventing aggressive animal behavior that can result from inhumane tethering.”
    The Governator,” who has two dogs himself, is right on the money. Dogs are social animals who crave companionship—chaining them up for extended periods of time can turn them into ticking time bombs. Since 2003, at least 104 people have been injured or killed by chained dogs. Nearly 75 percent of those victims were children, and 11 died in the attacks. … (The rest is on line.)
    The tethering makes dogs more highly territorial and anti-social, and the change would help eliminate these conditions.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Los Angeles has been turned into a Third-World shit-hole, and no one does anything except write a letter of two.
    If you want to regain any semblence of a civilized City, I would think the first step is to take back the school system from the union hacks that now run things. Perhaps if the LAUSD can be turned into a working system(s), their might be hope of doing the same with City Hall; at least the new voters might have some idea what the fight is about, today’s graduates are (if they are lucky) functional illiterates, with no idea how the political system in this country is supposed to work
    Take it back, or move to a state that still works.

  7. one of the neighbors... says:

    Thirty years later, I’m still mowing my own lawn… thirty years later, I’m still taking out my trashcans… thirty years later, the city has trimmed our trees twice (2 times)… the street is a long pothole, with a few smooth spaces in it… and, I love my home. I never would have dreamed that someone COULD seriously choose to disobey the laws of Los Angeles, and the laws of common decency, by coming into my quiet little middle income neighborhood and dividing one of the three bedroom homes into 3 apartments so that they would make a (quick) profit before the grossly over burdened city inspectors could stop them. According to public record, no Department of Building and Safety permits have been drawn for these changes… I’m sure the rental income is not being taxed at the correct tax base… 8 or 9 cars worth of people… one sewer line, 3 separate kitchens… many, many trash cans… this in a single family resident, R1 neighborhood. The dog is fine, she’s a good girl and she is well taken care of. The pool in the back yard is more often than not, green and in need of proper care… in fact, during the summer the owners put a pump in the pool and drained the filthy water down their driveway and it flooded the sidewalks, street, and neighboring yards with swamp-like water all night long. I am getting ready to start a campaign to remove Zine from office over his negative response to the neighbors who actually went to his office to seek solutions for us this… the word on the “street”… Haynes street, that is,… is that he is very busy, and this is not as important as his other pending issues… so I suppose that he will not be available to come pick up the rotting figs from the fig tree in the back yard… we will just wait until the rats eat them all, I guess… Oh, yeah, the back yard is divided into 3 yards, too… and that was after the tenants moved in… I bet that they have been taken for a ride too!… How many laws and codes of city, state and federal agencies could be involved in this episode of money-making-at-it’s-finest??? Small, quiet neighborhoods with long-time neighbors who would never expect this kind of mis-conduct might just be the right place to start up “tri-plexes”… WHO KNEW?

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