Calif. -- Santa Maria adopted new laws to crack down on illegal housing and
The city says
it's to keep the community safer.
conversions are at the heart of the problem. They can lead to fires and
24th, a fire broke out inside a home on North College Drive.
Santa Maria Fire
Battalion Chief Scott Johnson said there were signs at least one person was
living in the garage against city code compliance.
attorney's office says it has dealt with more than 230 overcrowding violations
in past five years.
Many things can go
wrong with these garage conversions from fires to CO2 poisoning to health
problems and the city has already found 25 this year.
"Nothing was done with
a permit in here," says Code Enforcement Officer Joy Castaing touring through a
converted garage. "The bathroom, the plumbing, the electrical, nothing had been
It's a problem causing
major safety concerns for the city.
Last year, alone the
city found nearly a hundred of these substandard living quarters made from
The kitchen of one
converted garage was installed improperly and had mold forming around it. Code
enforcement officers says the un-permitted plumbing and wiring cause dangerous
"We have stoves being
connected sometimes with propane tanks which is very dangerous condition," says
Code Enforcement Officer Esequiel Moreno. "As these tanks leak or if the gas
leaks, it's not properly installed, it could create an explosion or some other
type of combustion."
Officers say the main reason more of these are popping up is because of the
allow to live in garage because they are just trying to help out someone who is
a little down on their luck," says Castaing. "Other times, they are just trying to make money. Our
goal is to make sure people are safe."
Code Enforcement is
launching a campaign Thursday called "Walk and Talk" where officers will knock
on doors to educate people about these dangerous code violations.
Saturday, May 18 2013 1:26 AM EDT2013-05-18 05:26:42 GMT
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