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California Hotel Residents Angry With City of Oakland, Congresswoman Barbara Lee | Surprise Inspection Monday Scared Tenants

California Hotel Residents Angry With City of Oakland, Congresswoman Barbara Lee | Surprise Inspection Scares Tenants

UPDATE: Ricky Graham of Congresswoman Lee's Staff Makes Wrong Move

I don't know what the hell's going on, but the City of Oakland's looking real bad in this matter with Oakland Community Housing's attempt to unlawfully evict the tenants of the California Hotel. Moreover, and I really like and support Congresswoman Barbara Lee, but her office is not looking good in this matter either.

I just got this horrifying email from Linda Carson, which I'm going to post below and send to National Public Radio. I know for a fact that Congresswoman Lee's staff is aware of the bad press they're generating for the Congresswoman because they're leaving their tracks all over my specialized website traffic detection system and several times Monday. Even the Congresswoman's Washington DC office has got into the act -- welcome back!

The Oakland City Attorney's Office, somehow using a Danville-based Internet system, was also here. Indeed, I can make a small list of the offices represented on the report generated. So the word's out -- but it's not "out" enough. If the inspection was ordered, it reads like someone -- perhaps the City Attorney's Office -- feels that an emergency "look" at the hotel was in order before some, hopefully, protective action was taken. Protective of the tenants, who are scared to death.

This is also a great example of the terrible public relations strategy over at the City of Oakland. What's going on? Who's minding the store? They just send out cops and don't tell tenants the police are coming in the Internet age? Stupid. I feel sorry for the tenants and the Oakland Police, who are just doing their jobs.

Here's what Linda sent just moment ago. If it doesn't piss you off or make you cry, you don't have a pulse. And where's the City Council? Call 510-238-3266 and ask for Councilmember Jane Brunner (District One) and Councilmember Nancy Nadel (District Two), who's districts are both impacted by this issue.

California Hotel is raided by City of Oakland

By Lynda Carson July 21, 2008

Oakland -- In what is being described as a blatant show of force meant to intimidate and harass the residents of the California Hotel out of their housing, Oakland cops, the fire department and city building inspectors payed a surprise unannounced visit to the California Hotel to conduct searches in numerous office rooms, and the rooms of the residents who have refused to move after being threatened with eviction and the shut off of their gas, water, and electricity recently.

The tenants of the California Hotel recently responded to threats of forced relocation by refusing to move after receiving a threatening notice stating that the hotel they reside in may shut down after July 15. In further response to threats of having their gas, water and electricity turned off at the hotel, the tenants responded by filing a $2.5 million lawsuit against Oakland Community Housing, Inc., John Stewart Company, CaHon Associates, Charles Folwkes, Greg Hyson, and Laura Sanborn. The tenants are being represented by attorneys John Murcko of Oakland, and Stephen Perelson of Mill Valley, and in recent days Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch granted a Temporary Restraining Order to keep the owners of the California Hotel from turning off the gas, water and electricity.

In a well executed raid, the City of Oakland decided to flex it's muscles and show the elderly, disabled and poor residents of the California Hotel that theres nothing in the world to stop the brute force and power of a corrupt city government from doing anything possible to take back control of the California Hotel from it's residents, who have lawfully refused to be illegally forced out of their housing recently, by corrupt city officials.

At around 10:15 AM Monday morning July 21, in a surprise visit to the hotel, five squad cars containing around 8 to 10 cops descended upon the California Hotel. Barely minutes later, James Edwards the Deputy Chief of the Oakland Fire Department, Vincent Crudele of the Fire Code Inspection Services Unit, and Rick Fielding plus several of his assistants from the Oakland Building Services Division, joined the Oakland cops to conduct a search of the old historic hotel located at 3501 San Pablo Avenue.

The surprise unannounced inspection involving multiple Oakland city departments frightened the residents of the California Hotel, and no one from the Building Services Division offered any explanation to the residents as to why the unannounced inspection occurred today. The residents were repeatedly advised that they needed to contact the City Attorneys Office, if they had any questions about the on-going search taking place floor to floor, in their housing units and the rest of the hotel.

Deputy Fire Chief Edwards was kind enough to advise the residents that his department was there as a followup to an earlier inspection, and told the residents that a report detailing today's inspection findings would be released at a later date.

According to eye witness accounts, the interior and exterior of the premises was searched from top to bottom, including the drawers inside numerous office rooms in the building, and the cops went searching floor to floor pounding on the doors of the residents, demanding entry into their homes at the old historic hotel.

"Everbody was scared, they just came busting in without any warning, and no-one knew they were coming here today," said California Hotel resident Otis Blacksheer. "I've lived here for two and a half years, and never saw anything like this before! The cops and inspectors went door to door to search peoples apartments, and even searched the drawers in the offices of the building. We do not know what the cops or inspectors were looking for, and I did not want to get to close to the cops in case they thought I was dangerous or something," said Blacksheer.

"This is a lawless town!," attorney John Murcko stated in response to the raid occurring at the California Hotel earlier today. "They've never done an inspection like this before. Their harassing the tenants! The city knows that it is losing in the courts, and this is a blatant display of force and an abuse of power. The tenants have rights, and it's totally illegal to search the rooms of the tenants with-out a search warrant or some kind of a notice offered in advance. The Police, Fire Department, and building inspectors have violated the 4th amendment which is supposed to guard against unreasonable searches and seizures," said John Murcko one of the attorneys representing the residents of the California Hotel.

Dawn Phillips and two others from Just Cause Oakland a local tenant's advocate group, arrived at the California Hotel earlier today at around 12:30 PM, shortly before the city inspectors left the premises. "The cops were gone by the time we got here," said Dawn Phillips of Just Cause Oakland. "Theres a lack of support for the residents of the California Hotel by city officials.

Today was a big show of force by the city which seemed very intimidating to all the residents being pressured to move out of the hotel. The tenants are doing their own security and grounds keeping work at the hotel ever since the John Stewart Company abandoned the tenants and the premises. The tenants are organized, and on a daily basis since the John Stewart Company pulled away from managing the property on July 15, the residents have shown the city and the world that they can fend for themselves, and keep the building cleaner than the John Stewart Company ever could.

Everyday the tenants sweep and clean the building inside and out, and earlier today Deputy Fire Chief Edwards complimented the residents for the fine work that they have been doing. The residents have the right to remain in their housing at the California Hotel, and we hope that the city will come around to supporting their position as time passes as they continue to show everyone that they are willing and able to manage the building themselves," said Phillips.

Ricky Graham, is described as being in charge of the press and media coverage for Congresswoman Barbara Lee's office in Oakland, and Mr. Graham called earlier today to voice his complaint because I pointed out recently that there has been no visible public support coming from Congresswoman Barbara Lee, that suggests that she supports the rights of the residents to remain in their housing at the California Hotel.

Congresswoman Lee has not appeared at any of the recent rallys or protests by the residents of the California Hotel who are being unlawfully forced out of their housing, and I believe that Mr. Graham was irritated by someones July 20 posting at Oakland Focus, called; "Congresswoman Barbara Lee's Office Said To Be Silent on California Hotel Eviction." Click on the following link for the Oakland Focus posting; http://tinyurl.com/6fym5p .

In addition, Mr. Graham went on to try and convince me that he was a very important man, and that he spent many years working for a number of major publications before coming to Congresswoman Barbara Lee's office, and that I should have called up Congresswoman Lee's office to ask what her position was in regards to the plight of the tenants at the California Hotel. Fine I said, and quickly asked what is the Congresswoman's position in regards to the plight of the tenants at the California Hotel? We'll have to get back to you on that later on this afternoon, Mr. Graham said. I never did hear back from Mr. Graham by phone or e-mail later on, in regards to the position of Congresswoman Lee as to the unfortunate plight of the residents at the California Hotel.

According to John Murcko one of the attorneys representing the residents of the California Hotel, he stated that he wrote and sent a letter to Congresswoman Barbara Lee in regards to the plight of the residents at the California Hotel, and stated that he never received a response back from the Congresswoman.

When I asked Mr. Graham about the lack of response by Congresswoman Barbara Lee in regards to Mr. Murcko's letter about the plight of the residents at the California Hotel, Mr. Graham also stated that he would get back to me with a reply, but he never did.

In addition to the plight of the tenants at the California Hotel, around 20 families at East Oakland's Drasnin Manor mixed use affordable housing development (2530 International BLVD), are also 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 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 of losing their housing at other property locations owned by OCHI, in Oakland.

Documents reveal that over 500 residents of OCHI properties in Oakland, are all at risk of losing their housing due to the mismanagement of the non profit housing organization known as Oakland Community Housing, Inc., a member of the East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO).

On Wednesday July 23, at 5pm the residents of the California Hotel at 3501 San Pablo Avenue in Oakland, plan to celebrate their first week of resident control by dropping a large banner in front of the hotel that will say, "We Will Not Be Moved." Just Cause Oakland is asking the community to come out and show their support of the tenants at the California Hotel.

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