Growing system found inside vacant home

GLENDALE — Authorities on Monday discovered a sophisticated hydroponic system — typically used to grow marijuana or vegetables — inside a vacant home that had become a frequent stop for squatters, officials said.

No one claimed responsibility for the system, which was built inside a foreclosed home that had been recently purchased by a property company, city officials said.

“This is scary stuff right here,” said Aram Karsian, the property’s manager.

The property’s owner purchased the foreclosed home last year and was trying to get help from the city’s Neighborhood Services division to remove squatters, who had been sleeping inside the vacant home, said Che Hill, a city code enforcement officer.

But when Hill and Glendale police Officer Michael Ullerich arrived to check on the home Monday, they found no squatters.

Instead, Ullerich and Hill discovered that the home’s kitchen, a bedroom and living room had been converted to into a multi-room growing area using a hydroponic system.

The walls, floor and ceiling were covered in plastic.

A foil ventilation tube, a series of low-hanging ceiling lamps, an air-conditioning system and air filters were staggered throughout the space.

Additional electrical outlets were also installed into the walls.

Foam sealant oozed out of the hardwood floors. Bags of soil and large buckets were scattered throughout the home.

A water line had also been installed from an illegal tap into another home.

The hydroponic system is not illegal to have inside a home if it is being used to grow vegetables or flowers, Ullerich said, and no marijuana plants or seeds were found.

But if the system’s owner intended to use it to grow marijuana for profit, which is outside the protections offered in the Compassionate Use Act, then it could be illegal, police said.

Karsian planned to rent out the home, but since city code enforcers yellow-tagged the home, he would have to put his plans on hold.

Hill estimated the system cost between $15,000 and $20,000.

Various violations could result from the construction of the system, including a misdemeanor charge for tampering with electrical wiring, he said.

 VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at veronica.rocha

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