Beginning in 1989, apartment building owner Guillermo Gonzalez was repeatedly cited by city building inspectors for unsafe and unsanitary conditions in the property where he and his family reside in one of the three units.

In 1990 the court issued a default judgment to demolish certain outbuildings, which were built without permits. The $21,940 demolition cost was recorded as a lien against Gonzalez’s property title.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

In 1997, the city filed an 85-count misdemeanor criminal complaint against Gonzalez, alleging violations of the building, fire, housing, plumbing and electrical codes. He was found guilty of 15 of the counts and ordered by the court to correct all code violations within 30 days. However, he failed to correct the violations and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

In 1998, Gonzalez served an additional 90 days in jail and was later sentenced to 450 days in jail for continuing violations.

In 2001, city inspectors returned to the property and found 32 misdemeanor code violations. Finally, on Dec. 6, 2004, the city petitioned the court for appointment of a receiver to take control of the property, which had become a public nuisance.

The court appointed the receiver. He found in a single bedroom on the second floor 14 bunk beds where tenants paid to sleep. The front yard had been converted to a makeshift kitchen and the back yard was filled with inoperable vehicles.

In 2005, the receiver petitioned the court for permission to demolish the unsafe apartment building where Gonzalez and his family still resided. The receiver presented evidence to the court it would cost at least $145,000 to repair the building, which would then be worth about $450,000. However, he produced an appraisal showing if the building is demolished, the vacant lot will be worth $509,000.

If you were the judge would you authorize the receiver to demolish the apartment building to finally end this 15-year nuisance?

The judge said yes!

The receiver’s proposed demolition of the building, the judge began, is reasonable to finally end this 15-year saga where the property owner repeatedly refused to bring his property up to minimum safety and sanitary standards.

Rather than attempting to repair the structure, which is in very poor condition, he continued, it is time to put an end to this nuisance.

“Demolition of the structure and sale of the property is a more reasonable course of action under the circumstances,” the judge explained. The property receiver is authorized to proceed with demolition of the structure, with costs to be recorded as a lien against the property title, the judge ruled.

Based on the 2006 California Court of Appeal decision in City of Santa Monica v. Gonzalez, 45 Cal.Rptr.3d 84.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center

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