Los Angeles County is forcing people from their homes for no reason:
In order to clear the title on their land, the Dupuises are spending what would have been peaceful retirement days dismantling every board and nail of their home — by hand — because they can’t afford to hire a crew.
Tough code enforcement has been ramped up in these unincorporated areas of L.A. County, leaving the iconoclasts who chose to live in distant sectors of the Antelope Valley frightened, confused and livid. They point the finger at the Board of Supervisors’ Nuisance Abatement Teams, known as NAT, instituted in 2006 by Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich in his sprawling Fifth District. The teams’ mission: “to abate the more difficult code violations and public nuisance conditions on private property.”
L.A. Weekly found in a six-week investigation that county inspectors and armed DA investigators also are pursuing victimless misdemeanors and code violations, with sometimes tragic results. The government can define land on which residents have lived for years as “vacant” if their cabins, homes and mobile homes are on parcels where the land use hasn’t been legally established. Some have been jailed for defying the officials in downtown Los Angeles, while others have lost their savings and belongings trying to meet the county’s “final zoning enforcement orders.” Los Angeles County has left some residents, who appeared to be doing no harm, homeless.
Some top county officials insist that nothing new is unfolding. Michael Noyes, deputy in charge of code enforcement for Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, says, “We’ve had a unit in the office through the ’70s and ’80s.” But key members of the county NAT team say that “definitely, yes,” a major focus on unincorporated areas was launched in 2006.
Those who suspect that the county may have plans for their land won’t be dissuaded by this:
Emeterio claims that [Deputy District Attorney David] Campbell told his public defender, “Well, he’s got ‘vacant’ land, and we want it vacant.” His voice rising, he explains the county’s view: “You’re not allowed to have anything there! Not a storage container, not a fuckin’ tire, not a nuthin’. Not a tractor. Nothing!
But Oscar Gomez, a zoning official on a county NAT team that took the Weekly on a ride-along in June, says such violations “bring the property value down. … There are actually people that own all the property around them, even if they haven’t built there yet.”
Read the whole thing, or as much as you can bear.