City Hall

City Council president doesn't pay his bills on time

herb-wesson320.jpgHerb Wesson, the president of the Los Angeles City Council, has received five default notices for being late with mortgage payments since he became the top council official in 2011, David Zahniser reports for the L:A Times. "In two of those instances, Wesson’s properties came dangerously close to a foreclosure auction, according to county real estate records. The most recent auction was scheduled for July 6 and then canceled, records show." the Times says.

Wesson attributed the problems to the home he and his wife bought for $759,999 in the Wellington Square section of Mid-City.

“Like so many Americans, my wife and I purchased our home during the peak of the housing market only to watch the bubble burst and the economy nose dive into the worst recession in more than sixty years,” Wesson said in a statement.

“We have been working with a financial adviser to get our household finances back on track,” Wesson wrote, “and while our financial hardship is deeply personal, we hope to use our experience to help local families learn more about managing their finances and weathering economic uncertainty.”

The first default notice was filed with the county the same week that Wesson's colleagues voted him in as City Council president, succeeding Eric Garcetti. Wesson's spokeswoman says he is now current on all his mortgages.

The story of Wesson's finances first broke on City Watch, where animal activist Daniel Guss detailed the financial problems of Wesson and his wife. Sample:

Their former residence in Ladera Heights, which sits on an earthquake fault line, was first in default 14 years ago this month. But as recently as a few weeks ago, the Wessons were notified that the million dollar house would be sold at auction for just $382,229.50 in July if their obligations were not immediately satisfied. They have received similarly ominous warnings virtually every year since 2011.

That house, according to the Council President’s filings, provides the Wessons between $10,000 and $100,000 in rental income per year by leasing it to a Pasadena-based business that uses it as a for-profit assisted living facility. (That company was cited this summer by the Department of Social Services for having broken appliances, indoor furniture and exposed trash in the yard, and poor maintenance of patient records.)

Wesson’s office did not respond to a request for an interview regarding why that revenue was not used to satisfy the latest mortgage default, what conditions presently exist in the house, what is its current ownership status and the condition of its residents.

Things are more worrisome for the city’s leading lawmaker when it comes to the home in which he and his wife reside. Earlier in 2016, they were in default by $33,248.24, an amount similar to earlier default notices and more than double those from earlier years at the other property.

More by Kevin Roderick:
'In on merit' at USC
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Google taking over LA's deadest shopping mall
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Recent City Hall stories on LA Observed:
Inequality and city hall in Los Angeles
Politicians, pay your bill
Wesson cautious on city hall probe
City hall's poisoned PLUM
Put Jamal Khashoggi Square outside the Saudi consulate on Sawtelle
Ryu says Korean Americans must step up
UCLA study calls for rent control tightening
Ignored in downtown L.A.'s new glitter?