2nd Home Flaw Probe Ordered

Times Staff Writer

The City Council has ordered a second independent investigation into allegations that city building officials performed inadequate inspections on a luxury subdivision.

The council has hired Melvyn Green, an El Segundo structural engineer, to examine city inspection records and to inspect alleged building flaws in the Crownpointe development at Phillips Ranch.

The first consultant, Robert Sullivan, a retired Upland building official, told city officials in a written report last month that dates on city inspection records were incorrect, stucco coatings on at least two recently built homes were cracked, one stove was improperly vented, and drainage channels were left open, posing a threat to children.

Not Done in Depth

Sullivan acknowledged in the report that his investigation was "not done in a great deal of depth" but that record-keeping problems are "not uncommon" among building inspectors. Sullivan added that structural deficiencies in the homes were the fault of the builder, not the city inspectors.

However, the council authorized a new investigation after two Crownpointe residents complained that Sullivan's survey was inadequate. Sanford A. Sorensen, Pomona's director of community development, said the residents' dissatisfaction with Sullivan's report was the primary reason the city is seeking a second opinion.

Homeowners Mike Daniel and Greg Tuttle told the council last week that Sullivan gave their homes only a cursory inspection and did not address several potential fire hazards, such as the substitution of plastic piping for metal inside a fire wall in Tuttle's home, a violation of the city building code.

Cracks in Stucco

Daniel and Tuttle say they noticed the problems shortly after moving in last fall. Large cracks in the outside stucco coating and the absence of fire safety features prompted the two to examine city inspection records. They brought discrepancies in the records to the council's attention in January. The city then hired Sullivan to investigate.

But Tuttle and Daniel told the council that the homes were full of hazards that city inspectors should have noticed. Bill Zaremba, the inspector who was responsible for their homes, has admitted that he overlooked a blocked broiler vent in Tuttle's home and made errors in record keeping. But Zaremba has also said the houses are essentially safe.

Sorensen said Sullivan probably would be paid less than the maximum of $3,000 that the council approved for Green.

'Could Have Gone Further'

"I didn't see much fault with the first report," Green said, "but I felt it could have gone further."

Green said he will try to establish whether the builder or the inspectors should be blamed for the construction flaws.

Six of the 42 homes in Crownpointe are inhabited and about half are ready for occupancy. The rest are at various stages of completion.

The tract's builder, Valinda Development Co., went out of business before finishing the project last year. Valinda was a joint venture of San Marino Savings & Loan Assn., which was placed in receivership in February, 1983, and developer John Martin.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World