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Red-tagged house has rich history

Posted: June 2, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 2, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Behind the shutters and the boarded up windows of a house on Bernina Avenue in Canyon Country, now red-tagged with “No trespassing” stickers, lies the history of a man who devoted his life to helping the unfortunate.

When Max Odrezin died in 2008 at the age of 92, he left behind a legacy of helping the needy.

Proudly displayed behind the cash register of the restaurant he ran for more than 30 year was a 1975 California Senate proclamation for Odrezin’s humanitarian efforts feeding the needy, according to a friend who remembers him fondly.

Next to it was the 1945 World War II Russian military liberation medal, the friend recalls.

“We were at the hospital when he died,” Beverly Jarrard said in an interview last week. She was contacted after Odrezin’s home was boarded up by county and city officials as a health hazard.

After her friend died, Jarrard tried keeping in touch with Odrezin’s only living relative, his daughter, although she doesn’t hear back from Laurie Odrezin.

“Every year, I send her a birthday card to that address on Bernina and it does not come back,” she said. “It must be being forwarded.”

Max Odrezin’s son died years ago, she said.

Rats, garbage

Laurie Odrezin is listed by Los Angeles County Department of Public Health inspectors as the person who holds the deed to the Bernina Avenue house and is named in their inspection report as the “person in charge.”

The report says inspectors also found the house infested with mice and rats and littered with garbage, including spoiled food. A city official said people were living at the home illegally.

Efforts last week to locate Laurie Odrezin were unsuccessful.

Investigators with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s office revealed last week that since November 2012, they have filed more than a dozen criminal charges against occupants of the home, most of them drug offenses.

Other offenses filed against more than half a dozen of the home’s occupants include: elder abuse, stealing electricity, possessing weapons, witness tampering, possessing burglary tools and violating conditions of parole.

Red tag

The home was “red-tagged” as unfit for occupation on May 23 and boarded up by city and county officials responding for a variety of reasons, representatives of both jurisdictions said last Tuesday.

Four days after it was boarded up, deputies were dispatched back to the house in response to reports by neighbors that someone was heard breaking wood at the house, sparking concern that its occupants were trying to gain access, Deputy Josh Dubin confirmed.

Residents reportedly looking out their back windows called the sheriff’s office as they’ve done repeatedly over the years since Max Odrezin died. Responding deputies, however, found no sign of a break-in and made no arrest, a spokesman at the sheriff’s station said.

Since Odrezin died in 2008, predeceased by his wife, Rhoda, by 10 years, no one has paid property taxes on the house, said city spokeswoman Gail Morgan.

“The home was open to access so we barricaded it to prevent people entering it,” she said.

Mayoral hopeful

Max Odrezin, who ran unsuccessfully for Los Angeles mayor against Tom Bradley in 1981, bought the Canyon Country home in 2004 as a place to retire, records kept at the Los Angeles County Assessor’s office show.

Los Angeles Daily News columnist Dennis McCarthy marked Odrezin’s 2008 death with a column.

“If a person came in and said they were hungry, I’d sit them down and give them a bowl of soup,” he quoted the mayoral hopeful on how he ran his restaurant.

“If they were still hungry, I’d give ‘em a salad. If they were still hungry after that, I’d give them the meat loaf or special of the day,” McCarthy wrote.

Odrezin reportedly told the columnist: When people start eating, they stop fighting.
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