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Landlord plans appeal of ZAB decision

Daily Planet Staff
Tuesday January 23, 2001

A city board’s determination that five units in a building on Piedmont Avenue are illegal will be refuted by the property owner at tonight’s City Council meeting. 

Reza Valiyee is appealing the Zoning Adjustment Board’s decision to declare the multi-unit property at 2412 Piedmont Ave. a “public nuisance.” 

The property, located close to campus, includes five units that the ZAB said were built without permits. 

The city and landlord Valiyee have wrestled a number of times over the years over code issues.  

Valiyee has spent time in jail and paid fines for violations at his various properties, said Councilmember Kriss Worthington.  

Worthington would not comment on the specifics of the Piedmont Avenue allegations because their veracity will be determined by the council.  

Valiyee could not be reached for comment. 

His appeal is based on a claim that the city has known about the five units for a decade and that the ZAB decision is simply harassment. 

“The failure to recognize this fact demonstrates the bias and prejudice of the ZAB with regard to Mr. Valiyee,” Valiyee wrote in his appeal letter to the council. “The (ZAB) decision reflects the personal bias and animosity of the ZAB members against Mr. Valiyee personally and the decision represents personal animosity rather than reasoned thinking.” 

Further, Valiyee said that the decision, which would result in obligating him to remove the five units, constitutes a “‘taking’ in violation of state and federal law” and that it would be an irrational act on the part of the city to destroy part of its much-needed housing stock. 

A report signed by Wendy Cosin, acting planning director, argues to the contrary. “This step culminates a long history of enforcement efforts by the city,” the report says. The property owner first asked the city for a permit to build four units in the basement of the property and was denied the permit in 1981, Cosin wrote. “The property owner was issued infraction citations on five separate occasions between the period September 1990 and September 1991.” 

A fifth unit was constructed without permits on the second floor, the report says. There have also been closets built under stair spaces and in hallways and electric panels installed throughout the building, all without permits, the report says. 

In addition to the five allegedly illegal units, the city’s report also details other code violations, such as a steel trellis-like structure that protrudes into the front yard in violation of a 15-foot setback requirement. 

The report adds that the owner was given many chances over the years to correct the violations, but has not done so. 

Eric Almanza is a student who lives in one of the rooms in the building he says includes “30 to 40” rooms and apartments. Paint is chipping off the walls and doors. Floors in the hallways are soiled. 

Almanza has lived there since the beginning of the school year and said, although the common bathrooms are not clean, he couldn’t complain. He says he pays $600 per month and is happy just having a roof over his head.