YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Pasadena charges owner of duplex where 2 died in blast and fire

Pasadena files charges against the owner of a duplex, home to 20 men, where two died in an explosion and fire.

August 01, 2013|By Joe Piasecki

Pasadena city prosecutors have filed 136 criminal charges against the owner of a duplex where two men died in an explosion and fire last November.

Twenty men were renting tiny makeshift rooms at the duplex on El Sereno Avenue at the time of the Nov. 1 blaze, which county prosecutors say one of the tenants intentionally set.

Paul Richard Boyd, 75, and Cliff Juan Clark, 56, died in the fire. Garth Allen Robbins, 50, was charged with arson, murder and attempted murder five days later and returns to court for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 15.

And now, property owner Jeanette Broussard, a 74-year-old Altadena resident, could face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for each of 136 identical misdemeanor counts of operating an illegal boarding house, Assistant City Prosecutor Kimery Shelton said.

Each charge corresponds to one day of operating the home in violation of city zoning code, dating from the fire back to June 19, 2012, the earliest date prosecutors could act on under statute time limitations, Shelton said.

"Ultimately, it's really critical that we send a message that we are going to hold property owners accountable for maintaining safe and livable facilities that are consistent with code," Pasadena City Manager Michael Beck said.

Broussard's arraignment is set for Aug. 7. She declined to comment when reached by telephone Thursday.

The case against Broussard is being brought after a broader city crackdown on unlicensed boarding homes and group-living facilities that officials say was prompted by the fatal fire.

It also follows claims filed against the city in April by two adult children of Clark. The claims, the first steps toward filing a lawsuit, accuse city officials of knowing about unsafe conditions at the property but failing to intervene.

City records obtained last year through a California Public Records Act request show the El Sereno property, owned by Broussard since 1991, was first investigated on suspicion of illegal construction and substandard living conditions more than a decade ago.

A February 2003 city zoning violation notice records 23 bedrooms, including 16 illegally built by subdividing rooms.

Pasadena investigators deemed the complaint abated later that year, only to return in 2008 after someone complained that a tenant at "an independent living home with 20 boarders" was creating fire and health hazards "with hoards of newspapers and other materials."

Los Angeles Times Articles