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 Member Update
I Will Not Take It Any Longer!
BMy Harold Greenberg, Esq.
any years ago, a self- appointed group calling itself the Blue-Ribbon Committee on Slum Housing surfaced in the City of Los Angeles calling for major changes
to the City’s rental housing inspection system. The City’s Building and Safety Department was to be replaced by Housing Department inspectors who would be more responsive to tenant activist concerns. Every apartment in the City of Los Angeles would be inspected, not just those where tenants had filed complaints about habitability violations. Radio, television, and newspaper articles exploded on the scene, triggered by Blue Ribbon claims that 107,900 rental units were rat-infested, and another 131,700 units had non-operating toilets. University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) law students under the direction of tenant activist retired professor Gary Blasi used numbers from the 1995 joint U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department and U.S. Census Bureau “American Housing Study” to substantiate their claim that almost half the rental units in the City were uninhabitable.
The Blue-Ribbon Committee numbers were totally exaggerated. Former Mayor Richard Riordan and the City Council at the time did not listen. Pushed along by tenant biased former Council members Jackie Goldberg and Mike Feuer, the Systematic Code Enforcement Program (SCEP) was enacted, first as a temporary and later as a permanent part of the Los Angeles Municipal Code. With the former
Mayor and tenant-biased Council members in tow, inspectors made highly publicized visits to target slum properties. The anomaly that slum busting took place under the existing complaint-driven procedure and was conducted by the Building and Safety Department was ignored. The former Council and the former Mayor pushed for and got a new $7,500,000 a year inspection bureaucracy, SCEP, and a new agency to enforce it, the Los Angeles Housing Department (LAHD).
Finally, on September 5, 2001, the LAHC produced “SCEP Study-2001,” which provided reliable numbers on the number of rat-infested and toilet-less rental units there were in the City of Los Angeles In a sample of 5,443 units inspected by LAHD over three years, there were 97 units with rat infestation and 125 units without an operating toilet. Projected to the 750,000 rental units included in SCEP, the total number of rat-infested units in the City was 13,366 instead of 107,900 and 17,224 instead of 131,700 units having an inoperative toilet.
The major defect of SCEP is that inspectors are forced to randomly inspect all 635,000 rental units in some 77,000 apartment buildings instead of concentrating on the 1,336 buildings with rat problems and 1,722 buildings with toilet problems. Because of this nuclear bomb rather than targeted missile approach, the prevention of slum conditions is less effective today than before SCEP program was imposed.
The time has come to evaluate the effectiveness of and reconsider SCEP. Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID+LA)

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