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DOWNTOWN : Apartment Owner Gets Jail Term

February 14, 1993|IRIS YOKOI

A Hollywood Hills man with a five-year history of slumlord convictions at three Downtown apartment buildings was sentenced to 45 days in jail last week after pleading no contest to the latest charges.

And in another case, the owners of the Grand Pacific Hotel have been ordered to pay $15,049 in fines, costs and charitable contributions after pleading no contest to slumlord charges.

Los Angeles Municipal Judge Suzanne Person gave Daniel Lee, 61, until April 1 to either repair his three-story, 38-unit building at 1130 S. Hope St. or transfer ownership to a nonprofit organization that helps the homeless and low-income tenants.

Lee pleaded no contest to 10 counts of allowing slum conditions at the Hope Street building, which he has owned since 1986. City inspectors last August found numerous housing violations in the buildings--including broken windows, plumbing and electrical systems, cockroach and rodent infestation, unsanitary bathrooms, and damaged fire equipment--and gave Lee 30 days to fix the problems. He failed to do so, according to city prosecutors.

If Lee decides to relinquish ownership, he must also pay to relocate the building's tenants, Deputy City Atty. Richard Bobb said. City law requires that landlords pay $2,000 per unit occupied by individual tenants and $5,000 per unit occupied by families, the handicapped or senior citizens. Bobb said he did not know how many people live in the apartment house.

Person ordered Lee to complete the jail term by April 8, when he is to return to her courtroom to prove that he has complied with all aspects of the sentence. Person also put Lee on three years' probation and ordered him to pay $2,221 for investigative costs.

In 1987, Lee became the first slum defendant in city history ordered to pay tenant relocation costs. He paid restitution to the Community Redevelopment Agency and a private service organization, Las Familias del Pueblo, for the cost of relocating families from another Skid Row hotel he owned at 701 1/2 E. 6th St. and its annex at 610 S. Towne St. The buildings were razed and Lee paid almost $30,000 in tenant relocation costs.

Last fall, Lee spent 30 days under house arrest at his third property, a three-story, 32-unit apartment building at 916 W. Georgia St., after he pleaded no contest to 10 charges of slum conditions there. He was also ordered to pay $1,500 to a tenants-rights group and to return to court March 16 to prove that he has completed repairs at the Georgia Street building.

Meanwhile, the owners of the Pacific Grand Hotel--Western Pacific International Inc. and executive Wen H. Hsiao, 56, of Palos Verdes Estates--pleaded no contest last month to 10 counts of health, fire and building code violations at the building at 416 S. Spring St. The owners were also placed on three years' probation.

Last June, inspectors reported cockroaches, broken toilets and chained-up fire escapes at the 265-room hotel.

But Western Pacific has done extensive, high-quality repair work on the building since the criminal charges were filed last August, Deputy City Atty. Michael Wilkinson said. The owners, who have until March 16 to finish repairs, must return to court March 23 to show that they have completed the work, paid the fines and contributed to a nonprofit charity that helps the homeless.

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