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Compromise Reached in El Monte Eviction Dispute

Times Staff Writer

Virginia Clapp doesn’t want to stay where she’s unwanted.

Given a second opportunity to fight eviction from her home of 18 years, the elderly grandmother instead agreed Tuesday to a compromise which will allow her to stay at the Capri Gardens Mobile Home Community for up to one year while she looks for another home.

“It’s better I move,” Clapp said. “I’ll be happy when it’s all done and over . . . and I’m someplace else.”

‘Good Solution’

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Clapp, who is 72 and confined to a wheelchair, lost an eviction proceeding in December over a $21.99 rent dispute with landlord Bruce Bender. Before the eviction order was carried out, a municipal court commissioner ordered a new hearing, citing evidence that had not come to light earlier. But before Tuesday’s scheduled hearing, Clapp agreed to move.

Under the compromise, Clapp can stay in her trailer until January, 1990, said attorney Layne L. Liddle, who represents Bender and park owner Ricberay Inc. Clapp has also agreed to pay six months’ back rent that was not collected during the eviction proceeding.

The agreement was submitted this week to Rio Hondo Municipal Court Commissioner William L. Jacobson.

“It’s a good solution,” said Lynne Charlton, Clapp’s granddaughter. “It will give us some breathing room. We feel the situation will work out to everyone’s advantage.”

Charlton and her husband, who live in the Bay area, will visit Clapp this weekend to begin the search for a new home. Fiercely independent, Clapp has refused to move to a convalescent home, saying she would rather live out her days alone in her trailer.

In court filings, Bender contended that for Clappto live alone, without family nearby or daily supervision, was unsafe. Last June, while Clapp was hospitalized recovering from a fall, she failed to pay the $21.99 utility surcharge on her $175 base rent, and eviction proceedings began. Clapp said she would have paid the utilities if she had seen the bill, but Bender’s attorney said she had failed to pay the surcharge several times in the past.

After reading newspaper accounts of Clapp’s dilemma, Jacobson voided his earlier eviction order.

In the end, Liddle said, Clapp’s departure will be better for all parties.

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‘Elicit the Proper Response’

“Our client felt she wasn’t able to care for herself, and this did elicit the proper response from her family, which is what we wanted all along,” Liddle said.

Charlton acknowledged that her family, which does not live in the area, may have been remiss in caring for Clapp in recent years.

“It’s something I don’t understand,” she said. “I hope that my family does come around to support what we’re doing and what Virginia’s doing.”

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Charlton said they would look for a senior housing complex where her grandmother could still have her cherished independence but also have daily contact with others.


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