For at least 18 months, state Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Van Nuys) has lived in a six-bedroom, $600,000 hillside house in Encino that he now acknowledges is several blocks out of the district he represents.
The 15-year state legislator and other state officials said there is nothing legally wrong with his living situation. And Robbins characterized it on Saturday as a "problem" that resulted from a clerical error when the district was reapportioned in 1982.
Since he discovered the error, Robbins has listed the North Hollywood address of his former father-in-law on voter registration, election records and his driver's license. He said he has his former father-in-law's blessing to do so and that he even occasionally uses a bedroom there.
"(But) I would be lying to anyone if I said I spend a lot of time there," he said.
Can Live Outside District
A spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office in Sacramento said state representatives can live outside their district, although she would not comment specifically on Robbins' situation.
Most voters and candidates assume that representatives will remain in their districts, but it is not required by law, said the spokeswoman, Caren Daniels-Meade. "You have to be a resident of district when you run; you don't have to be a resident when you serve," she said.
Robbins learned of his situation in the summer of 1985, even though he had purchased the Encino house a year earlier. The house had required extensive remodeling and he was unable to move in until he sold a condominium in Tarzana in 1986.
Robbins said preliminary maps used by the Legislature during the 1981 reapportionment debate showed that the Encino house he was hoping to buy was in a corner of the district. By the time he actually purchased it, however, the clerical mistake had been made. A few blocks were cut from Robbins' district and ended up after reapportionment in a neighboring district.
Robbins said he initially considered filing a lawsuit to have Oak View Drive restored to the 20th District. But fellow legislators discouraged him, he said.
Several conservative groups were challenging the reapportionment plan in court at the time, Robbins said, and colleagues feared that the lawsuit might encourage other challenges to the tediously negotiated reapportionment plan.
Robbins said he thought about selling the house but dismissed that option as well. "There isn't a big market for half-renovated, 47-year-old houses," he said.