Culver City : Apartment Law Modified

In a modification of its crackdown on illegal additions and bootleg apartments, the City Council decided this week that violators who turn themselves in during the three-month amnesty period may delay correcting the violation until their property is sold or transferred.

The council in February adopted a program to enforce various city codes in an effort to combat an increasing number of bootleg units, such as converted garages. Residents were given a 90-day amnesty period, until June 30, to report their violations. They were not fined and were given three years to bring their property into compliance.

On Monday, however, the council heard testimony from more than a dozen property owners who complained that the crackdown was forcing them to pay for code violations they did not know about when they bought their properties.

City Atty. Eleanor Egan told the council that it could not enact a "grandfather clause" to pardon past offenses without allowing present homeowners the same leeway to violate the codes.

The council voted 4 to 1 to extend the original amnesty period by three months and to postpone enforcement until the property is sold if violators report themselves. In such cases, city officials said, homeowners would be able to continue renting the bootleg apartments, provided there are no health or safety violations.

Homeowners who do not turn themselves in during the amnesty period will be given a year to bring their properties into conformance.

Councilman Jim Boulgarides, who said he favors stricter enforcement, voted against the motion.

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