Monday, April 29, 2002
Delgadillo Backs Bill to Block Landlords From Avoiding Court Orders
By NAZANIN AGANGE, Staff Writer
A bill that would close a loophole allowing landlords to sell property to avoid cleaning it up was publicly backed by City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo Friday.
Assemblyman Paul Koretz, D-West Hollywood, who authored the bill, led the presentation.
City Council President Alex Padilla and community leader Tony Swan were also on hand for the announcement in front of a beleaguered North Hills apartment complex.
Delgadillo, a sponsor of the bill and the catalyst for its inception, according to Koretz’s office, called the building the “perfect example of why we need to pass this bill.”
The six-unit complex had been the scene of one murder, several gang-related shootings, and more than 20 drug arrests, Delgadillo said.
Mary Claire Molidor, head of Citywide Nuisance Abatement Program, said that from July 30, 1999 the city collected evidence of illegal activities taking place on the property.
Court proceedings were halted in September 2001 because the property was sold, nullifying two years of evidence and paperwork. Under current law, a nuisance abatement order expires when the property is sold.
“When he sold the building the injunction was useless,” Delgadillo said of the case. “The people who live here lost the most. They must wait even longer to get their safe, clean neighborhood back.”
A property documented as a haven for drug sales, gambling, prostitution and gang activity is considered a nuisance.
Assembly Bill 1868 is heralded by supporters as the solution to prosecutors’ problems with slumlords flipping, or selling, nuisance property to avoid injunctions.
Currently, prosecutors can acquire court orders to make the owners of nuisance properties make specific changes, ranging from installing lights to hiring an onsite manager, for the improvement of the property.
AB 1868 would also allow courts to order landlords to reside on the property until the improvements are made. Delgadillo called this an incentive for the landlord to make the changes quickly.
“If we have to make him live in the laundry room, that’s where we would make him live,” Delgadillo said.
Koretz called the legislation a “dramatic step in the right direction” and vowed to follow the progress and success of the bill to make any necessary changes in follow-up bills.
The bill was introduced on Jan. 31 and cleared the Committee on Judiciary on April 23.
AB 1868 also designates fifty percent of civil penalties collected in nuisance cases to the state’s Restitution Fund and authorizes all county and city prosecutors to take actions against problem properties.
Koretz Chief of Staff Scott Svonkin said the bill will go to the Appropriations Committee next week. He said they expect it to be voted on very soon because it had no fiscal impact.
Molidor said she expected the law to actually save money because law enforcement would save time by not having to acquire new injunctions if a property was sold.
Delgadillo projected that thousands of properties would be impacted by the law. He said there are currently 2000 abandoned buildings that the law would effect.
“We’re in a battle for our neighborhoods,” he said. “We’re going to need all the tools we can use to fight this battle.”
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company