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City of Los Angeles v. Superior Court (Travis Wade)

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Third Division

February 10, 2015

CITY OF LOS ANGELES, et al., Petitioners,
v.
THE SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Respondent TRAVIS WADE, Real Party in Interest.

PURPORTED APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. BS138842, James C. Chalfant, Judge.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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COUNSEL

Michael N. Feuer, City Attorney, Gregory P. Orland and Brian I. Cheng, Deputy City Attorneys for Petitioners.

No appearance for Respondent.

Law Offices of Ada R. Cordero-Sacks, Ada Rita Cordero-Sacks and David Ruiz Riera for Real Party in Interest.

OPINION

EDMON, P. J.

Defendants and appellants City of Los Angeles (City), Los Angeles Housing Department (LAHD) and Mercedes Marquez, acting general manager of the LAHD (sometimes collectively referred to as the City) purport to appeal a judgment granting a petition for traditional writ of mandate (Code Civ. Proc., § 1085) in favor of plaintiff and respondent Travis Wade (Wade).[1]

Wade, an apartment tenant who lived alone, was evicted by his landlord after the City determined his unit, a converted recreation room, was an illegal

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rental. The issue presented is the amount of relocation assistance to which Wade was entitled. Wade asserted he has an orthopedic disability impairing personal mobility. Pursuant to Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) section 151.09.G, within the rent stabilization ordinance, a tenant such as Wade who has lived in a rental unit for three or more years is entitled to relocation assistance from the landlord in the sum of $9, 650, unless the tenant is a “qualified tenant, ” [2] in which case the tenant is entitled to an enhanced payment of $18, 300. A “qualified tenant” includes a tenant who “is handicapped as defined in Section 50072 of the California Health and Safe[ty] Code....” (LAMC § 151.02.)[3]

The trial court held a single person with an orthopedic disability is handicapped within the meaning of section 50072, so as to be entitled to the enhanced relocation payment under LAMC section 151.09.G. We conclude the ruling was erroneous. Under the plain language of section 50072, only a head of household with an orthopedic disability is deemed to be handicapped. Because Wade was a single person, not a head of household, he was not a “qualified tenant” for purposes of the enhanced relocation payment. (LAMC § 151.02.)

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On January 1, 2009, Wade rented a converted recreation room from the Sterns (hereafter, landlord) (not a party to this appeal). On February 16, 2012, the City issued a Substandard Order, citing the landlord for unapproved use of a recreation room as a dwelling for hire. The landlord filed a declaration of intent to evict in order to comply with the City’s order. The City referred the matter to Paragon Partners, Inc. (Paragon), the City’s relocation services

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contractor. Paragon made a determination that Wade was disabled and entitled to $18, 300 in relocation assistance, based on his status as a “qualified ...


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