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City of Crescent City v. Reddy

California Court of Appeals, First District, Fourth Division

February 16, 2017

CITY OF CRESCENT CITY, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
SARVADA NAND HANUMANTHU REDDY, as Trustee, etc., Defendant and Appellant.

          Order Filed Date 3/7/17

         Del Norte County Superior Court County No. CVUJ13-1245 Hon. Chris Doehle

          Counsel for Defendant and Appellant: Law Office of Bradford C. Floyd

          Counsel for Plaintiffs and Respondents: Silver & Wright Matthew Raymond Silver Ruthann Marie Elder Robert Norris Black

          REARDON, P. J.

         Defendant Sarvada Nand Hanumanthu Reddy is the beneficial owner of a motel in Crescent City (the city). In 2013, the city served on Reddy a notice and order to cure various building code violations at the motel. Later that year, after the necessary repairs were not made, Reddy entered into a stipulated judgment in which he committed to cure a number of specified violations within six months. When Reddy again failed to comply, the city filed a successful motion for the appointment of a receiver to oversee compliance.

         Reddy contends the trial court (1) erred in overruling his objections to the city's evidentiary submissions, (2) erred in failing to take live testimony, and (3) abused its discretion in appointing a receiver. We find no merit in these arguments and affirm the trial court's order.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         The Townhouse Motel (property), a building located in the city and owned by a trust for which Reddy serves as trustee, first became a subject of code enforcement efforts in 2006. Between that year and 2013, the city repeatedly ordered Reddy to abate dangerous conditions on the property through letters and notices of violations, to little effect. In May 2013, following a thorough inspection, the city issued a Notice and Order to Repair or Abate listing 76 building code violations and other illegal conditions and ordering Reddy to rehabilitate the property within 30 days. After a subsequent inspection found that Reddy had not made the required repairs, the city filed a lawsuit in July 2013.

         On stipulation of the parties, in November 2013 the trial court entered a judgment requiring Reddy to upgrade the property in various ways within six months and to cease renting rooms to the same occupant for more than 30 days. The judgment required repairs to the roof and sign, clean up throughout the property, and correction of specific conditions in 17 different rooms.

         Nearly a year later, the city inspected the property and found little or no improvement. Among other substandard conditions, city inspectors found exposed electric wiring, leaking plumbing, broken windows and holes in the walls, moldy and filthy conditions in many rooms, water damage to the foundation, a dilapidated roof, lack of proper weather protection, and junk and trash throughout the grounds. The inspectors concluded that “conditions on the [property] pose a substantial danger to the life, limb, health, and safety of the occupants of the motel, the residents of the surrounding community, and the public in general.”

         Based on the foregoing circumstances, in October 2014, the city filed a motion for the appointment of a receiver to oversee rehabilitation of the property in compliance with the trial court's judgment. The motion was accompanied by declarations of a city building inspector and a city code enforcement officer that detailed the various code violations and attached pictures of the dangerous conditions.

         In opposition, Reddy filed declarations from himself, the property's manager, and a general contractor. The contractor stated that he had repaired substandard conditions in the property framing and walls, replaced windows, and performed work to prevent further water damage. He inspected the property after the filing of the city's motion and disputed many of the city inspectors' findings, primarily their concerns about the property's structural soundness. Although he found three of the rooms to be uninhabitable, he concluded the remaining rooms were “clean, neat and appear sanitary.” The property manager addressed the city's contentions point-by-point, denying the presence of exposed electrical wiring, leaking plumbing, water damage, a leaky roof, and unsanitary conditions in the rooms, as well as other conditions. Reddy's declaration detailed his extensive efforts to bring the property into compliance with the requirements of the judgment.

         In reply, the city submitted supplemental declarations by the inspector and code enforcement officer. Both had inspected the property after the filing of Reddy's opposition papers and found that the code violations they had originally observed had not been cured. They concluded Reddy “has done little or nothing to comply and anything he has historically done has been unpermitted and substandard.” Shortly before the hearing on ...


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