GUEST WORDS--Is this justice or does this mean just us. Politicians are bragging about HHH and what they will do. The question is, what are they doing now. 931 to 937 E. Pico and 1518 S. Paloma St. have been left in the wash in the political bragging.
These properties are comparable to the Oakland disaster known as the "Ghost Ship" where approximately 36 people died because of lack of government efficiency, caring and diligence.
Ben Neman who has been indicted by the Feds on Money Laundering charges and as being a member of the Cartel owns these Buildings. He has been prosecuted by the Los Angeles City Attorneys' office on two occasions previously and is now presently being prosecuted on the Pico building.
These buildings are warehouses illegally converted to residential and commercial live work spaces. However, the Government fell flat on their butts. Even though he had been in business in excess of 8 years on these properties nobody inspected the buildings for habitability and safety.
Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) notified the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) of the substandard conditions on February 24, 2016; but LADBS failed to conduct any inspections.
Again, on August 4, 2016 LAFD notified LADBS. Finally, after August 4, 2016, LADBS decided to inspect the Buildings for habitability and safety. What, if anything, did LADBS do to bring it to any other governmental agencies' attention to protect these people and the community? Nothing, not only didn't they do anything, they did not report the deficiencies to any other agency.
The Pico building did not have permits for residential, they did not have a certificate of occupancy, and they did not have the yearly registration required under LARSO (Los Angeles Rent Stabilization
Ordinance). However, what they did have is no fire extinguishers, no smoke and/or carbon-monoxide detectors, inadequate fire protection, no accessible fire escape, locked fire escape doors to the roof and the outside, leaky roof, no heat amongst many other habitability issues.
This had all the makings of another Oakland/Ghost Ship disaster because they were not only adults living there but there are minor children ranging from 3 to 7 years of age. This was a homicide in the making and nobody gave a darn.
The Housing "officially" became aware of this issue on or before April 6, 2017 and unofficially as early as August of 2016. The lockout was issued on April 7, 2017, but the HCIDLA inspectors only went to the Buildings on May 9 and 10, 2017 to determine the relocation benefit entitlements.
The determination for Paloma was finalized on May 23, yet there has been no movement to provide relocation funds. Finally, on June 13, 2017, the HCIDLA made its determination on the Pico Building and they excluded at least one household with a minor child.
However, HCIDLA claims to have no money to provide relocation funds. Had they said this originally, maybe something could have been done through the City Council, the Mayor's Office, the City Attorney's Office, other governmental agencies or private agencies. This was not done until after the original lock-out date June 8, 2017. In the interim, and in order for HCIDLA to do its job, LAFD extended the order to vacate and the lockout to take effect on June 22, 2017. Without adequately and legally providing relocation funds, this means that many of these tenants will be homeless and on the street.
Councilman Jose Huizar, the councilman of District 14, has the ability to make a Motion for money to be utilized from the General Fund. He was approached on Wednesday, June 7 2017. Today we are sitting on the 14th of June and no action has been taken. If not now, then when? If not him, then who?
Are the politicians and the governmental agencies going to sit on their butts and allow innocent people to be out on the street and their property lost, confiscated and/or destroyed?
This requires action and not talk. And it needs action today.
(Harold Greenberg is an attorney with offices in Los Angeles. Mr. Greenberg’s views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of CityWatch.)