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By Randy Economy and Brian Hews
The Huntington Park home of embattled Los Angeles County Assessor John R. Noguez may look like any other run of the mill home in Southeast Los Angeles County, but look again.
Huntington Park city officials declared his residence as an officially designated “historical preservation site” during the same time he was campaigning to become the nation’s most influential public appraiser and tax collector and while the 70 year-old house was in foreclosure proceedings by a Long Beach financial institution.
Los Cerritos Community Newspaper obtained several legal documents regarding the fiscal condition of the property located at 3247 Olive Street from the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorders Office that includes a “Notice of Default and Election To Sell Under Deed of Trust,” dated Feb. 2009, as well as a “Notice of Rescission” on the property dated Feb. 2010.
Huntington Park Historical Preservation Committee members approved the idea of having the home of Noguez placed as a “Historical Resource for placement on the Huntington Park Historical Register” during its meeting on October 20, 2009. On Feb 2, 2010 the house was officially designated as historical, days later the foreclosure was rescinded.
When a property is in foreclosure, any efforts with historical designation underway may be reason to cease foreclosure proceedings. Noguez owed $15,452.25 on March 10, 2009 to JP Morgan Chase Bank, and the Deed of Trust indicates that a note on the property was set at $362,000.00 with Long Beach Mortgage Company.
On Wednesday, a representative of California Reconveyance Company, located in Chatsworth confirmed to Los Cerritos Community Newspaper that Noguez had resolved the matter and that the “file case had been closed.”
Huntington Park Historical Heritage Commissioner Wally Shidler, who is considered to be one of the most knowledge historians in Los Angeles County told Los Cerritos Community Newspaper he thought that one of the “main selling points for the designation” was that two Huntington Park mayor’s had owned and lived in the home during different time frames.
Ex Huntington Park Mayor Bill Cunningham lived in the same home prior to Noguez.
“John is a big supporter of property preservation. He came up with the concept of having a Historic Preservation Commission in the first place, so it was no surprise when he came forward to express his interest in having his own house placed on the city’s historical registry,” said Shidler.
What is even more telling is that Shidler, who has followed local historical homes, buildings and monuments in Southern California for generations had never stepped foot inside the home. “I have never seen the inside of the home. I couldn’t tell you the condition of what’s inside. I have seen photos, but never been inside,” Shilder quipped.
Shidler said he was not aware that the house was in the process of being foreclosed upon at the time the item appeared before the commission. “That’s news to me. None of us where ever aware of the personal financial situation of the home.”
“We don’t care who lives in the house, but we do care about the historical and or unique construction of a home or building before we declare it to be of a historical nature,” said Shidler. He also added that there are “hundreds of homes” like the one Noguez reside at in Huntington Park.
“Just looking at the house from the outside, it looks like every other one in neighborhood. It might have a special window treatment, or a different style door, but that’s about it as far as I can tell,” Shidler said.
“John pushed this through personally, he wanted his house to be recognized in a formal matter,” Shidler said.
The Noguez home was one of the main targets of a massive criminal raid several months ago by members of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office of Public Integrity and other law enforcement agencies.
Several armed officers who wore bullet proof vests confiscated Noguez’ property from inside his home including computers, phones, file boxes, and even items from his tax payer owned sedan.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley announced earlier that year that Noguez was a central figure in an investigation that is focused on bribery, and money laundering allegations.
Jay Correia, with the California Department of Historical Preservation said he was not aware of how homes and properties in Los Angeles County, and specifically Huntington Park consider properties to be part of a formal designation. But he did say that to earn a “historical designation” by the state of California the structure “must be intact” and that it was be at least 50 years old, and that the home must be “significant” at the local level.
A comprehensive review of records from the Office of California Historical Preservation confirmed that there are no properties from Huntington Park on the California Historical Preservation Site list.
One of the most recent places in Los Angeles County to be designated was the Hawthorne childhood home of Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys.
Longtime Huntington Park resident and community leader Pedro Paramo who has followed Noguez career for more than a decade said, “John Noguez spearheaded the creation of the Huntington Park Historic Preservation commission.”
“Justification for making John Noguez’s home a historical designation was a written report by a group of high school students,” said Paramo. “Typically, the criteria is set high for designating any structure as architecturally or historically significant. The vetting is done by accredited historians with years of experience who specialize in the field, not high school kids.”
He went on to say, “it is curious that Mr. Noguez did not pursue benefits of the Mills Act, which would have given owners of historically significant properties a 15% reduction in property taxes; there must have been another reason for Mr. Noguez’s efforts at pursuing a historical designation for his property.”
“Typically, when a property is in foreclosure, any efforts with historical designation underway may be reason to cease foreclosure proceedings. If that was Mr. Noguez’s goal, it raises red flags including manipulating city ordinances and resources for his own benefit may be considered fraud and misuse of public funds,” said Paramo.
Los Cerritos Community Newspaper has not been successful in reaching Noguez for comment.
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