Sunday, November 06, 2016

Evictions Begin At Recently-Purchased 48-Unit Silicon Valley Apartment Complex; New Landlord Wastes No Time Announcing Plans To Renovate, Boost Rents; A Dozen Tenants Get The Boot So Far

In San Mateo County, California, the Silicon Valley Business Journal reports:
  • Evictions at a soon-to-be-renovated apartment complex near Redwood City are sparking a backlash.

    Displaced tenants and other local residents plan protesting the evictions [] outside the 48-unit Buckingham Apartments, bought in July by Trion Properties for $15 million and located in the unincorporated North Fair Oaks neighborhood.

    The Los Angeles-based private equity firm bought the property, whose units had been renting at 40 percent below market rates, with the intention of renovating the building to attract employees of nearby tech companies like Facebook, Oracle and Google. According to its website, the company will invest almost $1 million in improvements.

    Eviction notices have been sent to 12 units, nine of whose residents have left, said Trion Managing Partner Max Sharkansky, who said renovations will probably start next month.

    According to a Trion pamphlet, average rents for a one-bedroom in Buckingham are currently $1,670. Post-renovation, the company expects that to rise to $2,400.

    "Trion's plan is to high-end those apartments, which is crazy in this neighborhood," said Sister Christina Heltsley, who is organizing the protest and is executive director of the nonprofit St. Francis Center. "... This is historically a neighborhood for low-income people who do service work."

    Community Legal Sevices(1) in East Palo Alto is representing the three families who have stayed in their units beyond the effective eviction date, as well as residents of five other units who have not received eviction notices yet.

    Attorney Daniel Saver said this group of tenants has been in negotiations with Trion, but declined to provide details. As far as tenants getting relocation compensation packages, Sharkansky said "we have had conversations about it, but I can't get into details."

    Sharkansky said Trion is in "no big rush to push people out" of units where renovations are not scheduled to imminently take place, saying they've allowed the three families to stay in their apartments past the eviction date.

    Saver said displacement of residents is a problem for the entire North Fair Oaks neighborhood, which is predominantly Hispanic and lower income. He wants the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, which has jurisdiction of the area, to pass tenant protection ordinances related to rent stabilization, just cause eviction and relocation assistance.

    "This building isn't going to be the last," he said. "This has been happening ... and will continue to happen."
    ***
    Renovations are planned for the buildings exterior and common areas as well as the units themselves. Improvements will include new kitchens, bathrooms and wood flooring, according to Sharkansky, who said all renovations should be completed by the end of next year.
For the story, see Redwood City tenants to protest evictions at to-be-renovated apartment complex.
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(1) Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto provides legal assistance to low-income individuals and families in East Palo Alto and the surrounding community. Practice areas include housing, immigration, and economic advancement.

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