RICHMOND (KPIX 5) — Tenants at a large Richmond apartment complex are angry over mass evictions just several weeks before people are set to vote on rent control.
The owner of the Creek View apartments at 3535 El Portal Drive in Richmond gave all the tenants 60 days to vacate the complex.
It isn’t exactly clear how many people live there. But the large complex is made up of eight buildings. Three are currently vacant, with families living in the remaining five buildings. There are 114 units in those five buildings, but the property manager says not all of them are occupied.
A Beverly Hills investment company owns the complex. David Silver, a spokesman for the company, says their inspectors found mold and mildew in all of the buildings. He says they want to get people out so they can fix the problem.
“We don’t believe in band-aid fixing. We want to make sure we do it the right way,” said Silver.
But tenants say it’s all about greed. “They’re lying. They’re lying,” said tenant Vincent Justin. “They flat out lied.”
Justin has lived at the complex for 22 years. He pays $1,250 a month for his one-bedroom unit.
He and others believe the owner wants them out before voters pass a rent control ordinance in Richmond on the November ballot.
If passed, landlords in Richmond would only be allowed to increase rents by about two percent a year and they would have to pay for relocation assistance for no-cause evictions.
Silver says the eviction has nothing to do with the rent control ballot measure. He points out they lose money by evicting families. But tenants argue the owner will get higher rents from new tenants.
Sharon Brown pays $1,410 a month for her two-bedroom unit. She says it’s impossible to find the same kind of apartment for that price.
“I start trying to pack up things, and then I just start crying because there’s nowhere for me to go,” said Brown.
Just like her upstairs neighbor Justin, Brown is also disabled and on a fixed income. Both worry they’ll be homeless.
“I’m depressed, just depressed,” said Justin, “Just greedy people that want to exploit, take advantage of what’s happening in this world today.”
Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay said he just found out about the mass evictions and doesn’t have much information.
Councilwoman Gayle McLaughlin plans to meet with tenants in September to see how the city can help. But their hands may be tied since Richmond doesn’t have rent control or any kind of ordinance to protect renters.
Last summer, Richmond became the first California city to pass rent control in 30 years. But the California Apartment Association forced the city to rescind the ordinance.
This summer, housing advocates collected enough signatures to place rent control on the November ballot. It takes a simple majority to pass the measure. But it may be too late for the tenants at Creek View.