Downey house illegally converted into law office, city claims

DOWNEY - A homeowner's request to turn their Lakewood Boulevard home into professional office space was continued to a later date by planning commissioners Wednesday, although the house has already been illegally converted into a law office, city officials said. Timothy and Irma Nilan own the property at 10825 Lakewood Blvd., south of 5th Street. City officials claim the couple illegally converted the property from a one-story, 1,418 square foot single-family residence into an office building with a reception area, two offices, two restrooms and a conference room and break room.

A two-car garage was demolished to make room for a parking lot, city officials said.

According to a staff report, the Nilans obtained permits to remodel the kitchen, replace drywall and windows, replace plumbing fixtures, replace doors, install a new HVAC unit and to stucco the house.

Four months later, they pulled additional permits to construct a 25-ft. long block wall across the front yard on the north property line.

The city received complaints, however, alleging that the Nilans built a six-foot tall block wall onto the neighbor's side of the property.

An investigation by city officials found that the Nilans were illegally operating a law office at the property. "They also demolished walls and reconfigured the interior of the house to facilitate the office use," city planners wrote in the staff report.

The city prosecutor sent the Nilans a letter directing them to remove all signs and advertising from the site, to secure permission from the planning commission to remove their unpermitted alterations, and to restore the property for residential use.

The letter also stipulated that they must legalize or remove the parking lot and construct a two-car garage.

City officials said the Nilans removed the block wall but were seeking permission to have their property rezoned for commercial use. The Planning Commission is expected to revisit the request at a later date.

City officials recommended the denial, claiming the property fails to meet several environmental and developmental guidelines.

********** Published: May 03, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 03