An 83-year-old La Quinta, California woman may soon go to jail because city officials say one of her home's bedrooms should really be a garage.
"What right do they have to call this a garage?" she asked, walking around the room with its cabinets, sink, bathroom and refrigerator. "I never called it a garage. How do they know it's not a bedroom? If this is a garage, then they owe me a bedroom."
For 18 months now, code enforcement officials have been after Camargo to turn the bedroom back into a garage. Insisting that her home is her castle, she has ignored more than a dozen warnings.
Her resistance crumbled last week when a local judge ordered her to comply or face possible jail time.
"It's traumatic. It's like tearing my house down," she said. "I bought this place 30 years ago, and it was always a bedroom. And now they are trying to shove this down my throat."
City building and safety director Tom Hartung said that an illegally converted garage poses health and safety risks but that going to court is a last resort.
"To say we should not enforce the ordinances based on the demographics of the owner of the property is unrealistic," he said. "We can't do that."
Camargo says the room was a bedroom when she bought the house. She doesn't want or need a garage, and doesn't have the money to turn it into one. I'm not an architect or building inspector, but I have a hard time envisioning any "public safety" concerns grave enough to make all of this necessary.