City officials will discuss LA’s housing safety issues in wake of Oakland fire

The warehouse at 931 East Pico Boulevard and City Attorney Mike Feuer
The warehouse at 931 East Pico Boulevard and City Attorney Mike Feuer

City officials will meet next week to tackle the issue of commercial spaces that have been illegally converted into apartments, in response the Oakland, California warehouse fire that killed 36 people Friday.

City Attorney Mike Feuer will sit down with the fire chief and the superintendent of the building and safety department to formulate an “aggressive response.” He said the issue is prevalent in Los Angeles, too, using the example of a local building on Pico Boulevard in which the owner constructed residences without smoke alarms and accessible fire escapes, the L.A. Times reported.

“In the wake of the tragedy in Oakland, I think it’s especially important that we be vigilant,” Feuer told the paper. “What we’re trying to do in the filing in the 931 Pico case and convening this meeting is to avoid a tragedy here.”

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The owner of 931 East Pico Boulevard, Morad “Ben” Neman, faces up to 4.5 years in jail and $9,000 in fines in his misdemeanor charges related to the building Monday, according to Feuer. He was also arrested in 2014 on money laundering charges connected to a drug cartel, in a case which is still pending.

The city leaders will also examine the broader issue of affordable housing, he said, because tenants of the warehouse that burned down last week said they had no other housing options in the increasingly expensive Oakland. [LAT]Cathaleen Chen