In 1997, the City of Los Angeles’ Blue Ribbon Citizens Committee on Slum Housing released a report on the increasing prevalence of uninhabitable housing conditions in the City – and called for dramatic reform of enforcement processes.
The Committee found the City of Los Angeles’ rental housing stock required proactive enforcement of California State Health and Safety Laws. The aim was to eliminate the growing substandard conditions in rental housing associated with deferred maintenance and the housing recession in the 1990s.
The Committee’s recommendation to address the deteriorating rental housing stock was to create a systematic routine inspection program modeled by San Francisco earlier in the decade. In an effort to reform the complaint-driven system, an ad hoc committee on Substandard Housing was created by the City Council. The Los Angeles Housing Department worked intensely for months with the Blue Ribbon Committee, and several other City administrators to develop the Systematic Code Enforcement Program (SCEP).
The SCEP program was enacted through Ordinance No. 172,109 on July 15, 1998, under the Housing Regulations codified in Chapter XVI of the Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC), and signed into law by Mayor Richard Riordan.
SCEP provides a proactive, periodic inspection of all privately owned rental housing units located within the City of Los Angeles where there exists at least two (2) residential units on the parcel. Inspections are prescribed to be conducted on a 4 year cycle currently covering approximately 870,000 rental units, located throughout the City. The SCEP program includes the inspection of interior rooms, and building exterior, including common areas and garages. The inspections ensure properties are maintained as required by both the California State Health and Safety Code and the local Building Codes.
The SCEP program is fully funded by property owners and tenants through a regulatory Systematic Code Enforcement Program Fee to finance the costs of inspection and enforcement by the Department. Currently, the fee is $67.94 per unit per year.
Currently, with a core group of 55 Housing Inspectors, the SCEP program is able to inspect approximately 25,000 rental properties and 180,000 units each year. In addition to the SCEP inspections, the Department also has a core group of 15 Housing Inspectors who conduct approximately 12,000 complaint-based inspections per year.
Since 2005, the Department has maintained its own customized in-house database known as the Code Compliance Rent Information System (CCRIS), and has instituted a paperless inspection system through the utilization of tablet PCs. These tablets process custom-built software which is known as Mobile CCRIS, which works in conjunction with the desktop CCRIS system. This maintains a detailed inventory of all violations cited during the inspections, and wirelessly transmits the inspection results to allow for real-time processing. The combination of the tablets and the CCRIS System enables LAHD to manage all inspection activities throughout the inspection process.
Through the SCEP program, property owners and managers are required to periodically provide access to LAHD inspectors to see rental units to see firsthand and asses conditions and any needed repairs. Ultimately, the goal of Code Enforcement is to promote safe, livable, and healthy neighborhoods through routine inspection of the City’s rental housing units and enforcement of the Los Angeles Housing Code.
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