Landlord Fined in Bootleg Housing Case

A Hermosa Beach landlord who had been charged with a dozen violations of the city's bootleg apartment ordinance pleaded no contest Wednesday to three of the charges and was fined $1,760 and placed on one year's probation.

Edward Roszyk, the first person to be prosecuted in a crackdown that Hermosa Beach launched last year, waited until a jury was about to be chosen to agree to the plea bargain, said Deputy City Prosecutor Gregory P. Palmer.

Roszyk had been scheduled to go to trial in Torrance Superior Court on Wednesday after dodging authorities in Hermosa Beach for several years, Palmer said.

Roszyk has refused to comment on the case and could not be reached Wednesday.

The case was the first to go to court since the city hired Palmer to concentrate solely on bootleg prosecutions. Palmer said arraignments are pending against at least three other landlords in similar cases.

Roszyk had been charged with 12 misdemeanor violations of the Municipal Code and various building codes in connection with illegal apartments he allegedly had built in the 2400 and 2200 blocks of Hermosa Avenue and the 2300 block of Manhattan Avenue. City officials charged, among other things, that Roszyk had failed to obtain building permits for the units, which were on land that is zoned for single-family homes.

Cities like Hermosa Beach have, for years, fought a losing battle with such apartments, which they say create fire hazards, parking problems and traffic. In Roszyk's case, neighbors were also incensed, complaining that some of his tenants disrupted the neighborhood.

Tenants at the properties said in interviews that they suspected their homes were bootlegs, but continued to rent from Roszyk because the units were cheap and close to the beach.

In exchange for Roszyk's no contest plea and his agreement to bring the three properties up to code by July 23, the remainder of the charges were dismissed, Palmer said.

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