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A&W Attorneys Secure Judgment Against Boarding House Operator

Aleshire & Wynder attorneys Tiffany Israel and Wes Miliband obtained a judgment on behalf of the City of Newport Beach precluding the owner of several homes on a street zoned single-family residential from operating the homes as boarding houses.  The defendant had physically altered each home to convert each bedroom into a studio apartment and then leased each bedroom separately in violation of State and local law.

As seen in the February 11, 2011 Verdicts and Settlements section of the Daily Journal:

For the plaintiff: Tiffany J. Israel, Wesley A. Miliband
For the defendant:  Dominique N. Thieu

Orange Superior, Hon. William M. Monroe

RESULT DATE:  Sept. 14, 2010

The People of the State of California, et al. v. Derek George Lason, Teresa Y. Lu (30-2008-00102565) 11-JV_43


ATTORNEY:  Plaintiff - Tiffany J. Israel, Wesley A. Miliband (Aleshire & Wynder, LLP, Irvine). Defendant - Dominique N. Thieu (Thieu Virtual Law Group, Fountain Valley).

FACTS:  The City of Newport Beach sued defendants for allegedly operating a boarding house violating the city's zoning provisions, which prohibits houses located within a single-family area to be subdivided.  Theoperator Leason owns three houses on a residential street zoned for single-family uses located in the East Santa Ana Heights neighborhood of the City.  The City's zoning provisions require that residents of a house live together as a "single housekeeping unit." This lawsuit followed numerous failed administrative efforts by the City to obtain compliance.

In addition to the allegations of violating the City's zoning code, the City also alleged violations under California's Unfair Competition Law pursuant to Business & Professions Code Section 17200.  The City sought restitution.

The City asserted that the operator subdivided each of the houses into "multiple dwelling units" and would advertise room vacancies as "studios."  Each of the three houses would have up to six "studios."  Various residents on the same street posted signs protesting the "studios," which are essentially apartment buildings in the middle of a street lined with single-family houses.

Defendant Lu settled before trial with assistance of her counsel.

RESULT:  The City and the operator through their counsel entered into a settlement and stipulated to the settlement terms before Judge Monroe on June 28, 2010.  The operator, Leason, thereafter pro per, refused to sign the settlement document, and the City successfully brought a motion before the judge to reduce the settlement to judgment.

The Court ordered the operator to pay $3,000 to the City in sanctions.  The judgment further compelled the operator to pay an additional $22,500 to the City, as well as to return the houses to single-family uses.

Also, if the operator will be renting any of the houses, the operator is required to maintain that house as a "single housekeeping unit" solely through a single written lease.