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Canyon Country home ‘red-tagged,’ boarded up

Multiple arrests made at location where squatters stayed

Posted: May 27, 2014 6:48 p.m.
Updated: May 27, 2014 6:48 p.m.

A letter warning sheriff's deputies may arrest anyone trespassing in a Canyon Country home was posted on the door after the house was boarded up by city, county and law-enforcement officials. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze


A rat-infested Canyon Country “house of concern” where six people were arrested for various crimes over the past 18 months has been boarded up by order of city, county and law enforcement officials.

The home in the 27500 block of Bernina Avenue — found to be littered with rotting food, excrement and urine — was “red-tagged” as unfit for occupation Friday and boarded up by city and county officials responding for a variety of reasons, representatives of both jurisdictions said Tuesday.

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station investigators labeled the home “a house of concern” after more than a dozen criminal charges were filed against its inhabitants since November 2012.

Offenses filed against more than half a dozen of the home’s occupants include: elder abuse, drug possession, stealing electricity, possessing weapons, witness tampering, possessing burglary tools and violating conditions of parole.

“We’ve made a number of arrests there,” Deputy Josh Dubin said Tuesday. “For us, this is a house of concern.”

Three people were arrested two months ago when a probation search found a woman who was a dependent of one resident living in her own feces and rotting food, Dubin said.

The day before the house was boarded up, deputies were called repeatedly to the location for a variety of reasons, Dubin said.

County health inspectors found the house infested with mice and rats, according to the public health inspection report.

Extensive “corrective action” recommended by inspectors includes: “Remove rodent harborage. Observed hoarding conditions inside bedroom and garage. Properly rodent-proof the exterior walls and doors to eliminate gaps greater than 1/4 inch.”

Inspectors also reported finding “cast off” debris and waste throughout the home, including “putrescible matter” — spoiling food.

Deputies responded to the Bernina Avenue house three times on Thursday, starting shortly after 9 a.m. with complaints from neighbors on Vicci Street about a woman seen being dragged by the hair.

By noon, other deputies were dispatched in response to reports of drugs found at the house, said Lt. Mark Hershey.

And by Thursday afternoon, he said, additional deputies were called in to assist deputies initially sent there.

Since the home’s owner died in 2008, ownership of the building has remained “in flux,” city spokeswoman Gail Morgan said Tuesday.

“The reason the city was called in is because there are between seven and 10 people living there illegally.”

No taxes have been paid on the property since 2008, she said. “The home was open to access so we barricaded it to prevent people entering it.”

Occupants of the home included:

- a 50-year-old woman described by deputies as an unemployed taxi driver, arrested three times since July 2013 on suspicion of elder abuse, drug possession. receiving stolen property, possession of a dangerous weapon, possession of methamphetamine, possession of narcotics paraphernalia and unlawful use of a police scanner.

- a 34-year-old unemployed woman charged twice since April on suspicion of stealing electricity by allegedly tampering with a utility meter; also arrested on drug possession.

- a 29-year-old unemployed waitress arrested twice on suspicion of drug possession.

- a 34-year-old laborer arrested on suspicion of violating conditions of parole in November 2012.

- a 26-year-old machinist arrested on suspicion of possession of drugs.

- a 49-year-old security guard arrested on suspicion of trying to prevent or dissuade a witness/victim from testifying.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




SReilly12: Posted: May 28, 2014 10:24 p.m.

Wow!!! Wouldn't you just love living next door to this mess??? I'd be crying big time if I did. How in the world can taxes not be paid on a home for 6 years and it appears that no one was going to pay them and no officials step in sooner than 2012. I know this isn't one of the nicest areas in CC, but there has to be some decent hard working folks living there and OMG I just can't believe they had to deal with this for this long of a time. Now what happens....someone going to come in, clean it up and then sell it for back taxes???

ricketzz: Posted: May 28, 2014 6:53 a.m.

Bulldoze it. We should have a zero tolerance policy regarding abandoned property; restore it to sage and scrub brush, offer it to the neighbors as breathing room. Otherwise you get a shooting gallery or a crack house or both.

aguadulceresident: Posted: May 28, 2014 8:25 a.m.

@ricketzz, it says that "Since the home’s owner died in 2008, ownership of the building has remained “in flux". It is not necessarily abandoned, if the owner died, it is most likely tied up in probate with the courts.

chefgirl358: Posted: May 28, 2014 8:26 a.m.

Yep, I agree with both of you. What a nightmare for the decent people who live near this fiasco. And yes, it should be totally razed.

Unreal: Posted: May 28, 2014 9:13 a.m.

aguadulceresident: Exactly. It is in probate still.

You can require it to be cleaned up due to the rats and unsanitary conditions. You can't take away a house because people who own it or live in it do drugs or have been arrested.

You cannot just "raze" a home of people you do not like. America remember. Our constitutional rights don't mean a thing unless they apply to everyone.

stray: Posted: May 28, 2014 10:59 a.m.

That's where HOAs finally come in... Apparently, this property is in a community where there is no HOA. HOAs cannot throw tenants out - whether they are owners, renters, or free-loaders living in a vacant house. It doesn't matter that a house is in Foreclosure, or a home that's paid in full with delinquent property taxes, and overdue HOAs fees or in Probate in the courts. All a HOA can do is to bring the house to "curb appeal" and that might include hiring gardeners to mow lawns, etc... But, the city can and will board up a house when there are health concerns to deal with. Those neighbors must have been put through a lot of $h*t with those low-class thugs living there!

stray: Posted: May 28, 2014 11:22 a.m.

@SReilly - "Someone going to come in, clean it up and then sell it for back taxes???"

More than likely, the house has property liens on it while it is in Probate. The LA County will be FIRST in line to get their past due taxes which will include late penalties with interest added. If it is a home where there is a mortgage balance, the bank will be SECOND in line to get $$$ when it's sold to a new owner or auctioned, etc... Then, the bank will be left with the rest of the mess to clean it up or auction it "as is" to a property investor.

SReilly12: Posted: May 28, 2014 1:24 p.m.

@Unreal - I'm thinking with the owner deceased.....this home was invaded by someone other than family. That's my concern.

@stray - Thanks for the info. How long do these probate things take to settle? Starting to have my own little freak out moment - new neighbors moved in......within a week, second family moved in with and no one is maintaining the outside. Weeds 2 feet tall.......grass and flowers dying off from lack of water. Going to throw $20 to my gardener this week and have him cut the front yard.......keep an eye out.......I just might be featured in a up and coming article in the Signal......"Women arrested for cutting neighbors lawn"..........maybe I should start thinking about my own cake this!

stray: Posted: May 28, 2014 1:49 p.m.

@SReilly - "How long do these probate things take to settle?"

Wow, those probate issues can take years, literally! The courts have so many things to contend with. First, they have to investigate ALL kinds of things. Is there a living spouse, are there children, is there a Will, is the house left specifically to a family member out-of-state, ??? (etc...) If the court determines that there is NOBODY left to inherit the house, the court will assign a person to take control of the property - that means - a court ordered attorney (at taxpayers expense) to either hire a real estate agent - or auction the house, etc... If there are past due mortgage payments from years ago, the bank will take it in their possession and deal with fixing up the house or they'll auction it off. Sometimes, when there are no family members, and no Will, the State of CA will lawfully take possession of the property and anything else owned by the legal owner of the property.

And, SReilly - don't you dare get arrested by being a good neighbor and citizen! I better not ever read in our Signal that you baked your own cake for yourself! :) We need you around - and besides, we need YOU to bake that cake for SEVERAL strange posters here!

SReilly12: Posted: May 28, 2014 2:15 p.m.

@stray - thanks for the probate education! Sounds like a nasty road to go down. Memo to self - make sure Will is up to date!!! :)

I'll do my best to stay out of the legal system:)

stray: Posted: May 28, 2014 3:29 p.m.

One more thing..... EVERY Will will go thru Probate.... Some are simple and will be taken care of in a timely manner..... Unfortunately, most people don't know that Probate will be settled in court. The preferred way is definitely a Living Trust. A Living Trust is effective immediately AFTER the person's death. You COULD BE tied up in court though over contesting a Living Trust. Simply stated, if there are siblings who want to contest the Living Trust because they feel they are "entitled" to half the Estate, or want certain personal property of the deceased, or especially $$$$$ , they CAN contest it. It doesn't mean they will get a dime when it's ALL settled. It ALL DEPENDS on HOW THE TRUST is written. It may be written, "I want to leave my entire house with ALL its contents to my daughter Sally, and I want to leave my valuable jewelry to Dorothy, and I want to leave my lawn mower to Johnny because he has been estranged and we haven't seen him in years! " ... Then, the real fight begins when another sibling, named Richard, has been deliberately omitted from ANY inheritance because he's a sex offender and Richard tries to contest the Living Trust. If the Trust is documented correctly, Richard won't get anything but a HUGE migraine headache because he won't get a dime! Besides, he'll have to pay an attorney to challenge this Living Trust in court, and lawyers don't work without a HUGE chunk of money!

Be sure you have a Living Trust - and it doesn't matter how old you are... A Will doesn't really "cut it" when you pass away. Anybody, (children) who want a portion of that Estate, will then pay BIG $$$ for a lawyer to settle this in court. Whereas a Living Trust doesn't cost the recipients a penny to inherit the Estate. Again, the only time it costs "possible recipients" money, is when they CONTEST the Living Trust in a court.

Anything can happen to you - especially for those who don't have a spouse but do have children... Keep that in mind!

Unreal: Posted: May 29, 2014 9:44 a.m.

Yes living trusts are the way to go. No probate. That is what we have for my elderly mother. Much less to worry about.

We had an attorney friend who set it up but is a great, cheap, and fast way to go.

chefgirl358: Posted: May 29, 2014 10:12 a.m.

Actually when you do a living trust it often includes a will as well. My husband and I just finished all of our estate planning. Additionally, if you want to ensure that certain people won't get a dime, besides expressly naming them in the trust documents, you can also write up your own synopsis of why you are excluding them, have it notarized and include it with the packet of paperwork.

stray: Posted: May 29, 2014 12:44 p.m.

I am glad that both Unreal and Chefgirl are aware of the importance of a Living Trust... Actually, it's one of the most important documents you will EVER put together.

You hit it right on the nail chefgirl about omitting someone from inheritance! My parents know two different families who have omitted one child from inheritance. Recently, when my wife and I had ours prepared, my estate lawyer explained that when a person is deliberately omitting someone from any inheritance, YOU MUST STATE THE REASONS for excluding them. You CANNOT just say "I'm excluding John from ANY of my assets".... You MUST carry-out your wishes WITH AN EXPLANATION. Your verbiage can say something like "I am specifically excluding John from ALL of my assets because he was estranged for the past ten years; therefore, he was never concerned about my well-being."

I personally have a living trust document where my co-worker has elected me as his Executor of his trust. He has deliberately omitted his sister. He is single and has no other siblings. He has left his entire estate to me. With that, I'm his power of attorney, health care director and have complete control of his personal financial matters if he should become incapacitated.

Nothing, but nothing beats a Living Trust... Everyone should have one - and it doesn't matter how old you are. People are unaware of how important these legal documents are UNTIL something happens to them. Without them, it makes it virtually IMPOSSIBLE to transact on that person's behalf when there are NOT any legal documents. No bank will let you touch a dime out of someone's account until you have documents that PROVE you are the Power of Attorney for financial matters. And, more than likely, the documents will be written correctly requesting TWO currently licensed doctors who will sign documents proving someone's incapacity.

I believe Michael Jackson's Living Trust has specifically elected his mother and all his children to his entire Estate. From what I have read, he deliberately omitted his father from EVERYTHING ! **** There was family feud - all of MJ's siblings were contesting the Trust because they all wanted $$$$... But, the last I heard, they're not getting a dime! ****

Unreal: Posted: May 30, 2014 8:30 a.m.

If you have an elderly parent it is a good idea to have your name added to their bank accounts. It makes it easy to pay their bills when they are in and out of a nursing home or hospital.

stray: Posted: May 30, 2014 9:20 a.m.

@Unreal - "It is a good idea to have your name added to their bank accounts"

Very good point! My cousin is on his grandmother's accounts and also power-of-attorney where he is taking care of a "Reverse Mortgage" for her.

Off topic - She is barely "surviving" on a SS check because she now has 'in-home' nursing assistance. Years ago, at 70yrs old, she purchased insurance for "Assisted Living", but now she doesn't want to enter a home. She wants to stay in her own home and finish out her life - now 97... Also, she didn't get any favorable help from the Veterans Administration for "Survivors Benefits" where her husband was a WWII veteran. Here's something interesting... I had a neighbor who moved a few years ago and lost her husband - but now receives over $1,000 each month for survivor's benefits. AND - she also owns her home outright and receives SS and has money saved and owns property!

Something's not right there!

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