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Fee Hike to Help Check on Garage Conversions

Not only is it dangerous, it’s expensive to convert your garage into living quarters in South Gate.

Raising what has become the penalty for garage conversions more than tenfold, the City Council voted this week to increase building restoration fees from $75 to $1,000.

Officials said the hike will cover the costs of prosecuting residents who illegally make bedrooms of their garages. They say more than 800 residents tried it last year, costing the city $120,000 in legal costs.

While harsh economic times and insufficient housing lead many to rent out their garages as apartments, South Gate officials warn that garages can become a “deathtrap” during a fire because of the lack of windows and doors.

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Workers in the city’s Department of Building and Safety say they allow tenants of illegal garage conversions reasonable time to relocate. Sometimes they also make referrals to the city’s home improvement loan program.


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