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Calfornia Hotel Resident Eviction Calls For City Attorney Action ASAP

Calfornia Hotel Resident Eviction Calls For Oakland City Attorney Action ASAP

The California Hotel is the center of a battle between poor tenants and Oakland Community Housing, Inc. The California Hotel is a historic landmark building in Oakland currently owned by Cahon Associates, Inc., an affiliate of Oakland Community Housing, Inc. The building, located at 3501 San Pablo Ave. near the Oakland border with Emeryville, currhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifently has:

• 75 single occupancy rooms,
• 58 efficiency apartments,
• 16 studio units,
• a supportive services area, a large lobby and mezzanine, and
• several ground floor commercial spaces.

UPDATE: Congresswoman Barbara Lee's Office pointed to for inaction on this matter.

Here's the problem. Last year, Oakland Community Housing put out this Request For Proposals to find a developer to, as the RFP put it:

take over ownership and to convert the
existing property into a model permanent supportive housing complex as part of the implementation of
Oakland’s Permanent Access to Housing (PATH) Strategy and of EveryOne Home – the Alameda Countywide Plan to End Homelessness. Proposals are welcome from developer teams from throughout the greater Bay

The City of Oakland along with other partners have made commitments to work with the new owner/development team to gather the resources necessary to make this building a model supportive housing project. The City has already committed $1.3 million in capital funding and $300,000 in services funding. Other potential resources include medical services through LifeLong Medical Care, Alameda County Behavioral
Health Care services, operating subsidies through the Oakland Housing Authority, and Mental Health Services
Act (MHSA) Housing capital and operating resources.

As a result of this, tenants are being evicted, apparently to make room for whatever new developer was selected. But you just can't kick people out of housing without cause. From all the reports, these tenants, many of whom are disabled, were not even aware of the developer search process, let alone anything else. They paid rent and were good tenants. So the only reason for this brazen action by OCHI CEO Donald Gilmore -- and the City of Oakland -- is the change of ownership.

But even then, the change of ownership is for someone to basically run the same kind of facility, so why this action is being taken is questionable and it does not seem legal at all. But the possible impact of a new larger homeless population should be enough to get the City Attorney's Office to act.

The tenants at The California Hotel have put up with a lot of crap, from rats, and poorly maintained units, to this. They've not stood pat, filing a 54-person $2.5 million class action lawsuit against OCHI. Why can't John Russo's office join in the lawsuit?

This story is all over the listservs, but has been ignored by all the mainstream news organizations -- not here. Look at the reports posted on the listservs:


Update on California Hotel and Drasnin Manor tenants

July 19, 2008

Hi Darlene & others concerned...

The elderly, disabled and the poor in the California Hotel have been sold out by Oakland City Councilmembers, non profit housing organizations and apparently Congresswoman Barbara Lee who remains completely silent on the issue of their housing plight, so far.

The California Hotel tenants continue to remain in their housing and refuse to move after being doublecrossed by those that were supposed to watch out for their best interests. They have organized themselves to clean the hotel up and maintain it for themselves. At this point they could use some donations for cleaning supplies and other items to help keep the place clean, which the John Stewart Company looted from the hotel when leaving. In defiance of the brutal way the system is treating them, they are holding up under the circumstances as best as they can. See latest message from Just Cause Oakland down below past the recent news articles... Or, for more do a search on Google, with the search terms> California Hotel, John Murcko

See articles below about the plight of the tenants at Drasnin Manor (another OCHI property) and the California Hotel Update further below from Just Cause Oakland...

California Hotel tenants are not alone with eviction fears

By Lynda Carson July 19, 2008

Oakland - Around 20 families at East Oakland's Drasnin Manor mixed use affordable housing development are in fear of their future and their housing since the property went into receivership last May, after Oakland Community Housing, Inc., (OCHI) defaulted on a $510,000 loan during the past year.

The original loan of $510,000 was obtained through the American Savings Bank, which later became Washington Mutual Bank (Wa Mu) as of October 1, 1997, and the debt was transferred to Wa Mu during the process.

On May 21, 2008 the tenants received a notice stating that Drasnin Manor went into receivership, that Ma Hoopes Associates (Mary A. Hoopes ) was appointed to be the receiver of Drasnin Manor by the Alameda County Superior Court on May 20, 2008, and that they are required to continue to pay their rents to 2530 Associates, an affiliate of OCHI.

The tenants are expecting to receive another notice sometime during August that may give them more information regarding their tenuous housing situation, and they are very concerned about what the future may hold for Drasnin Manor, and their families.

Drasnin Manor is owned and operated by the same non profit housing organization that was sued in recent weeks for $2.5 million by the tenants of the California Hotel and their attorneys John Murcko and Stephen Perelson, after OCHI tried to frighten them out of their housing and threatened to cut off their gas, electricity and water according to the residents and their attorneys.

The residents of Drasnin Manor reside in a 26 unit residential housing complex which includes two and three bedroom flats, split level townhomes and 3,000 square foot of retail space. The project was completed in 1993 at a cost of $2.4 million, for very low and low-income households, which also includes a courtyard, a community room, laundry room and parking for it's residents, and is presently valued at $5,241,708.

On May 5, 2008 a Lafayette law firm (Belzer, Hulchiy and Murray) representing Washington Mutual Bank (Wa MU), asked the Alameda County Superior Court to appoint Mary A. Hoopes as the Receiver for Drasnin Manor, located at 2530 International BLVD., and the law firm also requested a Temporary Restraining Order and Injunction to keep OCHI from interfering with the duties of the receiver in collecting rents and managing the property.

According to legal documents, OCHI took possession of the property at 2530 International BLVD on July 2, 1991. During the past year OCHI defaulted on their payments at least three times to the bank. The money was owed to Wa Mu to pay off the debt of a $510,000 loan obtained around 1997. Wa Mu representatives claim that OCHI refused to make their monthly payments of $5,330 towards the 30 year fixed note during the past year, which forced them to place the property into receivership.

Documents reveal that Drasnin Manor's monthly gross income is estimated to be around $15,000 per month and during the past two years the City of Oakland also loaned OCHI an additional $1.5 million to operate and maintain their numerous properties.

The tenants at Drasnin Manor are totally SHOCKED that OCHI still managed to default on their monthly payments of $5,330 to the bank after receiving so much assistance from the city of Oakland during the past two years, in addition to all the rents being collected that were not used to pay off the $510,000 debt during the past year. According to legal documents, the principal balance of the note was $451,765 as of May of 2008. In addition, the law firm representing Wa Mu claims that OCHI owes back taxes totaling $96,526.

During June of 2008, Oakland's City Council voted to release an additional $900,000 in relocation funding to help OCHI force, bully or coerce the very-low income renters out of their housing units at Drasnin Manor and numerous other properties throughout the City of Oakland being mismanaged by OCHI, including the California Hotel.

Regardless of the plans of city officials and OCHI to remove or coerce the tenants from OCHI's numerous properties, the tenants at Drasnin Manor are protected under Oakland's Just Cause eviction protection ordinance, and may not be evicted just because a property goes into receivership.

As for the tenants at the California Hotel who refuse to be bullied out of their housing by OCHI, on July 14, 2008 it was reported that Sean Rogan the deputy director of Housing and Economic Development for the City of Oakland said, "It's unfortunate and counterproductive that other organizations are urging the tenants to not sign anything and don't take the tenant relocation assistance," he said. "I can't understand it if the building is uninhabitable."

Presently, Drasnin Manor has around 20 families residing there, and the John Stewart Company who used to manage the property for OCHI pulled out of there on May 29, 2008. The big changes the tenants see going on at Drasnin Manor since it fell into receivership, is that there no longer is a grounds keeper to sweep and clean the place up any longer, and that maintenance only appears 1 day out of the week now, instead of being there 5 days a week as was in the past to maintain the property. In addition, a manager only shows up in the office there 1 day out of the week, compared to being in the office 5 days a week during the past. The tenants have not been offered a reduction in their rents for a reduction in services, and the tenants are very concerned about their future. In addition, the tenants say that the kids have resorted to rock throwing lately at Drasnin Manor, now that no one seems to be around to tone things down a bit, and the kids know that no one is there to manage the property any longer.

The tenants at Drasnin Manor are very concerned that they will be illegally forced out of their housing, by city officials or others involved who may not want to recognize the fact that they have the right to remain right where they are, under Oakland's just cause eviction protections.

In addition to the above low-income tenants who are at risk of losing their housing, documents reveal that over 500 residents of OCHI properties in Oakland, are at risk of losing their housing due to the mismanagement of the non profit housing organization known as Oakland Community Housing, Inc. (OCHI), a member of the East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO).

The John Stewart Company (JSC) also pulled out of the Marin Way housing complex on May 29, but may have stayed on for an extra month according to documents. The Marin Way housing complex is located at 2000 International BLVD, Oakland. A 20 unit property also owned by OCHI, with 18 families residing there.

On August 29, 2008 JSC plans to end their management contract at the Nueva Vista housing complex at; 3700 International BLVD. Nueva Vista has 30 family units, and currently has 24 families residing there.

Slim Jenkins housing complex (30 family units at 700 Willow) and the James Lee Court (26 family units at 690 15th St.) which are both also owned by OCHI, will have their management (JSC) end their management contract sometime during August of 2008.

At the San Antonio Terrace housing complex (23 family units) also owned by OCHI, JSC plans to terminate their management contract on September 30, 2008.

All the tenants at the above locations are at risk of losing their housing once JSC ends the contracts to manage those properties, and many more tenants are at risk in other property locations owned by OCHI in Oakland.

As for future hearings on the situation at Drasnin Manor, a case management conference is scheduled for 9:AM Wednesday September 17, 2008 in Department 31, of the Alameda County Superior Court.

Lynda Carson may be reached at, tenantsrule@yahoo.com

So we have an organization in OCHI that is unlawfully evicting tenants at the California Hotel, and defaulted on a loan on Drasnin Manor. Why is the City of Oakland allowing this company to work in this way? Where's the enforcement?
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