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Vote sends proposed boardinghouse rules to L.A. City Council

PHOTOS: Four killed in Northridge shooting

An L.A. City Council panel is backing new regulations aimed at helping police and code enforcement officers rid single-family neighborhoods of unlicensed boardinghouses, which in some cases have become havens for crime and drugs.

The proposed rules, which now go to the full council, come one week after four people were shot to death in an unlicensed boardinghouse in Northridge where as many as 17 people were living.

The regulations would increase oversight of licensed group homes serving seven or more people and change the city code's definition of a "boardinghouse" to include any home with more than three renters — requiring them to obtain a license. They would not affect licensed facilities serving six or fewer people, which state law prohibits the city from regulating.

PHOTOS: Four killed in Northridge shooting

The ordinance has come under fire, however, from anti-poverty advocates, who said the new rules would push group homes that service the drug-addicted, disabled, parolees and the chronically homeless to register as boardinghouses, essentially forcing them out of some neighborhoods.

"No one supports 20 or 30 people in a single-family house," said Michael Arnold, executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. "L.A. is a city with a critical shortage of affordable housing. This ordinance will violate fair housing laws."

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office admitted Monday that its prosecutors erred in allowing a suspect in the Northridge shootings to receive drug treatment instead of prison time during a September court hearing. Prosecutors mistakenly told the judge that Ka Pasasouk, who pleaded no contest to possession of methamphetamine, was eligible for a drug diversion program under Proposition 36.

The voter-approved ballot measure was meant to send some nonviolent drug offenders into drug rehab rather than prison. Pasasouk has an extensive and violent criminal record that included recent prison stints.

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--Wesley Lowrey and Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Scott Sauers, 24, lives at the home in Northridge near where four people were shot to death earlier this month. Sauers said he was homeless for two years until he and his father were allowed to move in. Credit: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times

 
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