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Home is front line in battle with City Hall

Work done without permits causes authorities to place home in receivership.

September 25, 2011|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • Judy Shea is trying to fight the city after suing her and asking the court to appoint a receiver to take over her Glendale home. The city has ordered Shea to obtain permits for rebuilding her home, but the Design Review Board keeps denying her home redesign. Without their approval, permits cannot be obtained. (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff Photographer)
Judy Shea is trying to fight the city after suing her and…

Stacks of legal documents cover the kitchen table and architectural plans stick out of pantry shelves at Judy Shea’s Glendale home.

The kitchen has become command central as she tries to battle City Hall, regain control of her home improvement projects and wrap her head around piling costs.

“They’re drowning me,” Shea said, rifling through stacks of paperwork and bills.

While Shea paints herself as a victim, city officials say she and her family made their bed — nearly quadrupling the size of her home over six years without required permits — and now must sleep in it.

After years of failing to get the home under compliance, city officials say there were forced, for the first time, to get a judge to appoint a receiver — at Shea’s expense.

“This is the only time in Glendale’s history that the city’s done this type of receivership and it might be the last time,” said Deputy City Atty. Yvette Neukian. “We needed to take extreme measures.”

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In addition to the lack of permits, the city argued that Shea put people living in her home at 4104 Lowell Ave. in danger due to health and safety code violations, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court records.

Although the court-appointed receiver was a first for Glendale, in the past decade more cities have turned to the method to combat hoarding and other health and safety issues, said Andrew Adams, the receiver in Shea’s case.

Traditionally, receivers are known for their work on bankruptcy cases.

“It’s meant for these weird, awkward, tricky situations,” said Adams, of Los Angeles-based California Receivership Group. “Sometimes these things get contentious.”

Since 2001, Shea’s son, Jesse Yzaguirre, had been doing construction work on the house, almost quadrupling its size to 4,919 square feet, but doing so without city design approval or construction permits, according to the city. In 2005, city officials filed a misdemeanor criminal complaint against Yzaguirre for the illegal work and he was put on probation for three years.

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