County to Consider Suing Slumlord

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday directed county attorneys to explore a lawsuit against Dr. Milton Avol to force the convicted slumlord to repair a collection of decrepit rental houses in the Antelope Valley.

The board's action came after county officials expressed reluctance to demolish any of Avol's substandard houses, even though he has repeatedly failed to repair them.

County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, whose office has intervened on Avol's behalf in the past, complained Tuesday that Avol thus far "has thumbed his nose at the county."

During Tuesday's board meeting, County Counsel DeWitt Clinton said his office would explore the idea. Clinton could not be reached for further comment later in the day.

County building officials have cited at least 36 of the 72 homes owned by Avol in an unincorporated area surrounded by Palmdale for a variety of violations, some dating back 15 months. But Avol has done little to repair any of those problems, county officials said.

Antonovich, who represents the Antelope Valley, asked county officials to find ways to force Avol to repair the houses more quickly. County officials have said that because the homes are not structurally unsound, demolition should not occur.

In the past month, an aide to Antonovich twice intervened on Avol's behalf by calling meetings with county building officials. In both cases, building officials then agreed to grant Avol more time to comply.

But Tuesday, Antonovich chided building officials for repeatedly asking the board for authorization to demolish Avol's houses, but then failing to follow through.

"I would say when we passed the motion, that's what we meant," Antonovich said.

The issue arose Tuesday when the supervisors voted to add seven more Avol houses to the list of those authorized for demolition, bringing the total to nine.

"It's not the exception. It seems to be the rule that he abuses the people who live in his properties," Antonovich said.

Avol, a retired Beverly Hills neurosurgeon, gained notoriety in Los Angeles during the 1980s when he was repeatedly prosecuted for slum conditions at five of his apartment buildings. In the process, he became the first slumlord in Los Angeles to be sentenced to live in one of his own apartments.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
69°