City: Commissioner's property violates code

CITY HALL — City officials have filed a 19-count criminal complaint against a city commissioner for alleged property code violations.

Sam Manoukian, who sits on the Civil Service Commission, and several business partners own the property at 900 W. Glenoaks Blvd., which city officials say has fallen into disrepair.

In the criminal complaint filed last week in Los Angeles County Superior Court, city attorneys list nearly two dozen municipal code violations at the “dilapidated” property — ranging from the accumulation of junk and debris to failing to maintain proper landscaping.

While each count carries a fine of up to $1,000, City Atty. Scott Howard said the complaint is aimed at gaining compliance.

“The quality of life in the community is not served by slapping a fine,” he said. “Any time we file a case, it’s after a fairly lengthy process of attempting to gain voluntary compliance.”

Jolene Taylor, president of the nearby Pelanconi Estates Homeowners Assn., said that the property has long been out of compliance, and that the legal action was “a long time coming.”

City code inspectors first opened a case at the property in June 2009 in response to residential complaints, said city spokesman Tom Lorenz.

While the property owners initially worked to resolve the issues, the case was referred to the city attorney’s office after it fell in and out of compliance, he said.

Manoukian said he and his business partners had plans to build a retail center at the property, but construction financing was lost during the recession.

Their mortgage lender has barred them from demolishing the vacant building until a project is moving forward, he said, forcing them to board up the vacant building.

“We’ve been working with the city any time there were any issues with the property,” he said, adding that he was “speechless” when he received the complaint. “For god’s sake, we’re not criminals.”

He and his business partners met with city code inspectors and have started work to improve the property’s appearance, Manoukian said.

“Our intention is to try to get this thing resolved as soon as possible,” he said.

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