But Masaoka believes that day still might come. He says he's already nearly finished building a replacement house in an Anaheim location with free materials he's been getting on Craigslist.com. When he's done, he says, he'll transport it to the Tustin property and rent it out.

Bobak doesn't think Masaoka is being realistic.

"The debts they have far outweigh the value of the property," she says. "The city would just like to try to resolve these issues as easily as possible and be in a position where we're not just facing these repetitive claims from Harchol and Masaoka. At the end of the day, the city will hopefully be made whole."

Making the city whole again might mean the property will be developed once the city finally wrestles it out of the couple's hands. According to Masaoka and Harchol's lawsuit against the city, in 2004, the zoning on the property was changed from R-1 single family residential to R-3 medium-density residential, paving the way for a developer to build apartments.

Making the city whole again, for Masaoka, means watching the couple's assets get liquidated in bankruptcy court. Masaoka's truck-repair business and his parents' home were the first two casualties.

The third, he says, was his father, George, who died earler this year.

"[My father] didn't know if he was going to get thrown out on the street," Masaoka says. "He had all kinds of medical problems. The foreclosure sale happened in July, he was not told until Sept. 12, and then he has a major heart attack in December, and he dies in January."

When a March 12 settlement reached between the bankruptcy trustee and the city goes through, as it likely will, Bobak says, the city will acquire the property.

"It's a taking machine," Masaoka says of the city of Tustin. "It's a finely tuned taking machine. They've got it down to a science. I read a story about Nazi pillaging back in the '40s. It's the same stuff, different era."

Harchol adds, "That was our pursuit of happiness, you know, for our family. That's the most important kind. And people have savings that they invest in that."

*     *     *

In a phone call to the Weekly received just before press time, Masaoka says Harchol was seriously injured in a car accident at approximately 8 p.m. on March 13. Harchol was transferred to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana after striking a light pole at the intersection of MacArthur Boulevard and Bear Street in Santa Ana. She was wearing a seatbelt, but she has two broken ribs, a broken sternum and a broken hip, Masaoka says. As of this writing, she was in serious but stable condition, according to Masaoka.

Also, after the bankruptcy agreement reached on March 12, Masaoka says he was told that after all of his assets are sold off, he will still owe $450,000 in non-dischargeable debt, meaning he has to pay it back even though he filed bankruptcy. Masaoka says he also has to pay the bankruptcy trustee $73,000 for his services, and he owes $30,000 to the IRS.

He says he has "no idea" what he will do.


dolson@ocweekly.com

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