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Encino | Valley Focus

Apartments Prompt Safety-Code Charges

October 14, 1996|ED BOND

An Encino property-management company, two Texas firms and three men have been charged with violations of Los Angeles fire, health and building-and-safety codes at a four-story Koreatown apartment complex, a city attorney's official said.

"We were fortunate that nothing had happened," said Deputy City Atty. Ken Kambara last week, claiming that the building had reached a dangerous point despite repeated warnings from city officials to the property owners and managers.

Investigators from the Slum Housing Task Force--a joint effort of the Health Department, Fire Department and city attorney's office--found that the building had unsafe locks on exit doors, fire doors in corridors that were not self-closing, missing smoke detectors, improperly maintained firefighting equipment and improperly stored rubbish, Kambara said.

Also, according to officials at the city attorney's office, electrical lines were improperly secured, extension cords were being used as permanent wiring, windows were broken, bathrooms needed repairs and cockroaches had infested the building.

Charged in a 23-count complaint filed in Los Angeles Municipal Court were Charles Martinez, 42, of Sherman Oaks; Rafael Figueroa, 51, of North Hollywood; and Steven Santa Croce, 29, of Palmdale.

Figueroa is the chief executive officer for Raford Management Co. Inc. of Encino, the property manager for the building at 1519 S. Manhattan Place in Los Angeles, Kambara said. Raford Management officials did not return a phone call Friday afternoon.

Texas firms Half Moon N2 Associates Ltd., owner of the building, and Amresco Management Inc. were also charged.

City inspectors first discovered the problems in April, Kambara said. The property managers were given 30 days to make repairs and then were given a 60-day extension. Improvements had been made, but too little to have a criminal charge dropped, Kambara said.

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