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Angeles County | Community News File / El Segundo

Campaign Against Illegal Housing Draws Complaints

April 01, 1998

If El Segundo was really Mayberry, Andy would be facing criminal charges and Aunt Bee would be evicted from her garage apartment, say residents who recently launched a campaign to oppose the method in which the city is bringing illegal dwelling units up to code.

Two years ago, the city enacted a policy that designated all units that had not received the appropriate permits illegal dwellings. The city also encouraged residents to anonymously report illegal units and used a lottery system to pick the complaints they would investigate.

Although the system was discontinued shortly thereafter, some residents contend that the city is still targeting them unfairly. Gail Church, a resident who is facing criminal charges for a having a granny flat added to her home in 1989, said the city is failing to work with residents to make the units usable.

"The spirit of the code is to protect the city's infrastructure. They don't want people burdening the streets or schools," said Church, whose mother lived in the back unit until the city deemed it illegal. "Nothing has changed at our home by our adding a granny flat, except that now we have an $80,000 unit that can't be used."

City officials contend that they are not going after residents unfairly. Laurie Jester, a senior planner with the city, argued that the city does try to help residents bring the unit up to code before taking legal action. She said the number of illegal dwellings in the city has doubled since 1996.

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