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Jailhouse owner threatens lawsuit

Lawyer for city says it's pursuing Newhall Jail case as it would any other code violation

Posted: October 5, 2011 4:25 p.m.
Updated: October 5, 2011 4:25 p.m.

After weeks of back-and-forth spats with the city over his property next to ongoing construction of Santa Clarita's new Newhall library, the owner of the century-old Newhall Jail says he's now thinking of suing the city.

"I reserve the right to pursue litigation against the city," Santana said Wednesday, less than 24 hours after having appeared in court to face close to a dozen citations he received from the city.

On Tuesday, inside the Santa Clarita courthouse, he entered a plea of not guilty to 11 misdemeanor counts of violating city codes.

Santana has been fined in response to a complaint about the state of his jailhouse, a city spokesman said in August.

The complaint alleges his 100-year-old building is in need of a paint job and has cracked stucco, as well as a fence that needs mending.

The city's lawyer, Emanuel Shirazi, would not comment on specifics of the case Wednesday but spoke about such cases in general terms.

"In cases such as this, a property owner receives a number of citations and after a long time of not complying, the city just gets fed up," he said. "That's when I get called in.

"The goal here is not punishment," said Shirazi, who is expected to prosecute Santana in the case. "The city just wants him to fix it up as soon as possible."

Santana argues the jail is a 100-year-old building and should be preserved.

He said he wants to renovate it but needs money to do the job properly.

"They expect it to be polished up like a little brass button," he said. "But, it's an old jail. It was never meant to be a little brass button."

Santana is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 15 for a pre-trial hearing.




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