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Dream home becomes a nightmare in La Crescenta

Mess resulting from troubled project may cause losses for all parties.

September 27, 2013|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.
Judy Shea is trying to fight the city after suing her and… (Cheryl A. Guerrero…)

The past two years have been horrendous for Judy Shea, whose Glendale home is under the control of a court-appointed receiver hired by the city to repair massive health and safety code violations. She says she's felt frustrated and confused as construction and legal fees climbed to more than half a million dollars, fearing she'd lose the property she bought to be closer to her grandchildren.

This week, that fear became reality, and city officials and prosecutors say Shea's nightmare is of her own making.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge signed off on selling the property at 4104 Lowell Ave. for $699,000 on Wednesday. Shea won't get a penny. In fact, the money won't be enough to cover all the renovation-related fees.

The city may end up spending $61,000 for legal fees associated with the case, the first of its kind in Glendale.

“I'm on a fixed income. I'm retired and I'm disabled,” said Shea, 68, after learning about the approved sale. “I had a stroke, I believe because of this. I don't want to have another one.”

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Neither city officials nor Shea expected that she would lose her house when the receiver first took over two years ago. She blames city officials for being uncooperative, but prosecutors and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Donna Fields Goldstein place the blame squarely on Shea and her son.

Her son, Jesse Yzaguirre, began working on the house Shea bought for $225,000 in 2001, 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 him for the illegal work and he was put on probation for three years.

After spending an estimated $100,000 on construction work, Shea came in to rectify the situation, but city officials continually denied her plans, calling them incomplete.

In June 2010, city inspectors found a second story had been built without permits. They also found a multitude of health and safety code violations. Six months later, Goldstein appointed a receiver, Mark Adams, to get the house in compliance and fix safety problems.

Once Adams took charge, Shea, who now lives with her brother in Desert Hot Springs, lost her rights as the property owner.

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