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Red-tagged house has rich history

Posted: June 2, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 2, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Behind the shutters and the boarded up windows of a house on Bernina Avenue in Canyon Country, now red-tagged with “No trespassing” stickers, lies the history of a man who devoted his life to helping the unfortunate.

When Max Odrezin died in 2008 at the age of 92, he left behind a legacy of helping the needy.

Proudly displayed behind the cash register of the restaurant he ran for more than 30 year was a 1975 California Senate proclamation for Odrezin’s humanitarian efforts feeding the needy, according to a friend who remembers him fondly.

Next to it was the 1945 World War II Russian military liberation medal, the friend recalls.

“We were at the hospital when he died,” Beverly Jarrard said in an interview last week. She was contacted after Odrezin’s home was boarded up by county and city officials as a health hazard.

After her friend died, Jarrard tried keeping in touch with Odrezin’s only living relative, his daughter, although she doesn’t hear back from Laurie Odrezin.

“Every year, I send her a birthday card to that address on Bernina and it does not come back,” she said. “It must be being forwarded.”

Max Odrezin’s son died years ago, she said.

Rats, garbage

Laurie Odrezin is listed by Los Angeles County Department of Public Health inspectors as the person who holds the deed to the Bernina Avenue house and is named in their inspection report as the “person in charge.”

The report says inspectors also found the house infested with mice and rats and littered with garbage, including spoiled food. A city official said people were living at the home illegally.

Efforts last week to locate Laurie Odrezin were unsuccessful.

Investigators with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s office revealed last week that since November 2012, they have filed more than a dozen criminal charges against occupants of the home, most of them drug offenses.

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

Red tag

The home was “red-tagged” as unfit for occupation on May 23 and boarded up by city and county officials responding for a variety of reasons, representatives of both jurisdictions said last Tuesday.

Four days after it was boarded up, deputies were dispatched back to the house in response to reports by neighbors that someone was heard breaking wood at the house, sparking concern that its occupants were trying to gain access, Deputy Josh Dubin confirmed.

Residents reportedly looking out their back windows called the sheriff’s office as they’ve done repeatedly over the years since Max Odrezin died. Responding deputies, however, found no sign of a break-in and made no arrest, a spokesman at the sheriff’s station said.

Since Odrezin died in 2008, predeceased by his wife, Rhoda, by 10 years, no one has paid property taxes on the house, said city spokeswoman Gail Morgan.

“The home was open to access so we barricaded it to prevent people entering it,” she said.

Mayoral hopeful

Max Odrezin, who ran unsuccessfully for Los Angeles mayor against Tom Bradley in 1981, bought the Canyon Country home in 2004 as a place to retire, records kept at the Los Angeles County Assessor’s office show.

Los Angeles Daily News columnist Dennis McCarthy marked Odrezin’s 2008 death with a column.

“If a person came in and said they were hungry, I’d sit them down and give them a bowl of soup,” he quoted the mayoral hopeful on how he ran his restaurant.

“If they were still hungry, I’d give ‘em a salad. If they were still hungry after that, I’d give them the meat loaf or special of the day,” McCarthy wrote.

Odrezin reportedly told the columnist: When people start eating, they stop fighting.
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ricketzz: Posted: June 2, 2014 6:44 a.m.

Bulldoze it like a Palestinian school in Gaza.

Unreal: Posted: June 2, 2014 6:59 a.m.

I hope they can find the owner and she can catch up the taxes. It should not be that hard to get it fixed up.

Speaking of fixing things up, I had to go to LOWES this weekend. I spent forever walking around looking for items. No one is ever around to help you either.

Wow I really miss OLD ORCHARD HARDWARE on Bouquet. I used to love browsing in OSH. It was a manageable size and the seniors they hired actually knew how to do things like repairs and could help you. Cute holiday stuff too.

With LOWES and HOME DEPOT you just want to get in and out as fast as you can. Does anyone know if we are getting another small hardware like OSH?
I know Newhall hardware but that is not something I like either.

SReilly12: Posted: June 2, 2014 8:40 a.m.

Unreal - went to Lowes for plants this weekend..........only 1 plant expert in the garden area, people lining up to speak to him. Left with nothing and went to Home Depot....same story but they offered to call someone. Left and went to Green Thumb......lots of people there willing to help me.

chefgirl358: Posted: June 2, 2014 9:29 a.m.

I went to Green Thumb last weekend, so much nicer there. It is like OSH, sort of like stepping into a time warp and the employees are very friendly and helpful.

missyJk: Posted: June 2, 2014 9:34 a.m.

His daughter must be old too if he died 6 years ago at 92. Any grandchildren? i would think it would be overwhelming to deal with all that at an elderly age. I hope they claim it pay the back taxes and do what has to be done to the home to sell either the property or raze the house --edited.

bbcalvin: Posted: June 2, 2014 9:42 a.m.

Also went to Lowe's but different story. I had three employees walk up to me asking me if I needed any help.

Unreal: Posted: June 2, 2014 10:23 a.m.

missyJk: She would be in her 50's or 60's not exactly ancient.

Green Thumb is great for garden stuff and I do go there. Very nice.

17trillion: Posted: June 2, 2014 12:44 p.m.

I went to HD and walked in and the person that greeted me was asked the following: Where can I find earthquake straps? She told me the isle, which side of the isle, and how far down. I was absolutely dumbfounded that she knew where such an obscure item would be. On the other hand, I ordered a retractable screen door and it took over 5 weeks before I got frustrated with their nonsense and cancelled. A week to come out to measure, a week to get the measurement to the store, 2 weeks to order, a week and a half to come out and finally the guy came out and said he had the wrong size, not to mention his stunning lack of knowledge of the English language. I'm done with big stuff from HD.

amomof_4: Posted: June 2, 2014 3:20 p.m.

Mr.Holt you need to double check the information you've been given about this house and the situation at hand. First, I have only known the owner of the house for about 2 months. I was asked to speak to her in hopes I could find a way to help her save her house, the only thing she has left of her dad.
This article states the inspectors report said there was mice and rats in the house. THAT'S A LIE!!! Yes there was trash in the backyard and garage because they were in the process of cleaning out one of the bedrooms. The former tenant left suddenly without warning and left behind all their possessions. It had been a month since they left, at that point it was considered abandoned property and the owner was slowly getting things together to be taken to the dump. She is in her late-50's and had only a few people that were able to help her.
No one was living in the home illegally. Laurie had a new tenant move in a few days prior to the incident that was renting a room. She opened her home to those in need of a place to stay for the night so that they weren't sleeping on the streets. She helped others just like her dad, but in a different way.
On May 22, 2014 officers responded to the house based on a false report of domestic violence. The call was made by a woman that was not allowed to be at the house and was told the sheriff would be called if she showed up. The sheriff dept. had Laurie admitted for a 72 hour psych evaluation but wouldn't disclose at what hospital. There is a note on the front door stating that "Lori Odrezin" gave permission to the sheriff dept to arrest anyone on the property. If they put her in-patient for psych evaluation then obviously she wasn't competent to give that kind of permission, not to mention the fact that they spelled her name wrong and there is no signature on the paper!
This past Friday, the deputy in charge of having the house boarded up was asked if Laurie was released from the hospital after the three days. This was out of concern because she had no where to go if she couldn't return to her home. We were told that they found a way to extend her stay. Yesterday I was told by a friend of Laurie's that she was discharged after three days and is now living on the street. The red tag says that the structure of the house is an issue.Is that because they cut the beams on the house when they boarded up the windows?
It would be great if the neighbors would have been there to help her. Right now, we aren't 100% sure on where she is.. either in a hospital or on the streets, having her home taken from her by the sheriff department and the city. Would they do this if her dad were alive? --edited.

walker: Posted: June 2, 2014 7:57 p.m.

No comment on the house, but FYI there's an OSH not too terribly far away. It's in Granada Hills, on the corner of Zelzah and Chatsworth, about 20-25 minutes from the SCV. There's also a Tuesday Morning and a large Michaels (much nicer/larger than ours) nextdoor.

missyJk: Posted: June 3, 2014 1:05 a.m.

@ Unreal he died 6 years ago at 92 which would be 98 now i was guessing daughter might be mid to late 70's...

Unreal: Posted: June 3, 2014 7:07 a.m.

missyJk: My mother is 90 and I am in mid 50's

It is common for the wife to be a few years younger too. --edited.

ricketzz: Posted: June 3, 2014 7:27 a.m.

Is the OSH in La Canada closed? I miss the coolest hardware store anywhere. It's in downtown Newhall. Wood floors. Cowboy music. Cast iron cookware. Ammo. Flagpoles.

missyJk: Posted: June 3, 2014 8:45 a.m.

@Unreal God bless her, my mom is going to be 86 but my dad is only going to be 76..I cant imagine why the daughter would than just leave the house where vagrants would get in and she would lose it for unpaid taxes

SReilly12: Posted: June 3, 2014 12:30 p.m.

I don't know if anyone saw amomof-4 comment yesterday before she removed it........she told a very sad story about the daughter and this situation. Gotta say....brought me to tears!

amomof_4: Posted: June 3, 2014 2:58 p.m.

@ SReilly12: thank you for your comment. I hid the comment after the post in hopes that I would receive a return call from Mr. Holt at the paper. I have yet to receive one and since I believe the truth should be known, I had to post it. Laurie is a very good woman with a huge heart. The reason for the unpaid taxes is due to the loss of her father. She told me that shortly after his passing she lost her job, it had and still has a tremendous impact on her life.
I found an article written about her father in 2008 in the Daily News. It tells of a man that everyone liked, that helped those in need. He owned a restaurant for 30 years called The Patio. It was across from the Van Nuys Courthouse and he was well known by judges, lawyers, bailiffs, jurors and police officers. He fed the homeless. In 1975 he received an award from the California Senate for his humanitarianism, it is displayed proudly on the television set in Laurie's living room.
The reason I include this information is because her father was a well known man who helped a lot of people just out of the kindness of his heart. Now his daughter needs help and hopefully there are people out there whether they knew her father or not, that might be able to help. I am sure their are influential people that are within the judicial or executive offices of this county or state that can help her save the only thing that her dad left for her, a home without a mortgage.
Hopefully Mr. Holt will find time to return my call. The city has yet to return the messages I left asking why the inspector has marked code violations on the Red-Tag that do not apply to the property. The article says that it was boarded to keep people out. It was boarded up to keep the owner out as well. Once we find her, she won't be able to return to her home without being arrested. She wasn't doing anything illegal, she opened her home to those in need and was renting a couple of rooms out in hopes of being able to at least pay something towards the taxes. It wasn't her neighbors business who she had living there if they weren't bothering anyone.
I was standing on the porch last week writing down information and taking pictures of the tags posted on the front door. Clearly I was doing nothing wrong, and one of the neighbors was nice enough to call the Sheriff. I laughed when he approached me and showed him the information I had written down. Of course, he told me to have a nice evening and left. This is sad.

SReilly12: Posted: June 3, 2014 4:37 p.m.

amomof-4 - your welcome. My heart really goes out to this poor never know when life is going to turn upside down on you. It can happen to anyone! Bless you for stepping in to help!

missyJk: Posted: June 3, 2014 5:33 p.m.

@amomof_4 if they do a 5150 hold which is what a 72 hr psych exam is the officer is responsible for safeguarding the property that could be why the notice on the door... that person health history is protected by laws and cannot be shared without written consent to the provider of such services. There may be more to the story but it's possible if she opened her home to those less fortunate she may have gotten in over her head, because if illegal or drug activity goes on in there the homeowner would be responsible..I hope you are able to help her..i remember eating @ Patio while on jury duty in the 80's both times i was a juror and one trial lasted over 3 months so ate out alot

Unreal: Posted: June 4, 2014 8:28 a.m.

I wonder if the city exaggerated the conditions of the home to find a reason to "red tag" it? A few mouse traps and a good cleaning should take care of the issues. Plenty of houses in SCV have "drug use" going on. It does not mean vagrants crouching in a dark room sharing needles. It could be like plenty of good homes in SCV that have kids who have pot, or other drugs that their parents don't know about. So someone who has their own room may have had some drugs in that room. Does not mean "everyone" was doing it or involved in whatever the others were doing legal or illegal any more than if one apt. has anything to do with another apt. in a complex.

It sounds like the deceased owner was a wonderful man. and I wish an attorney in SCV would donate some time to help his daughter straighten things out and advise her. She could sell the home, pay the taxes, and buy down into something with the cash that's less expensive.

Come on you Lawyers, here is a chance to give back to someone who deserves it. --edited.

SReilly12: Posted: June 4, 2014 6:30 p.m.

I'm with you Unreal - sure wish one of our outstanding Lawyers would feel the need to do something really great and help this Lady out.

amomof_4 - has Holt returned your call?

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