Renters file suit against Oakland housing developer

Submitted by News Desk on Wed, 07/02/2008 - 10:00pm
OAKLAND - About 500 renters filed suit against Oakland Community Housing Inc. today, accusing the nonprofit housing developer of breaking a 30-year requirement to provide housing to low-income residents at the California Hotel.

John Murcko, an attorney for the renters, said Oakland Community Housing recently served eviction notices to all 500 residents of the California Hotel, which is located at 3501 San Pablo Ave., demanding that they relocate out of the hotel by July 15.

Murcko said the owners of the California Hotel are claiming they ran out of money and can no longer operate it properly.

But Murcko said he doubts that claim because Oakland Community Housing has been receiving large amounts of funding from local and state governments to acquire and maintain the California Hotel with low-cost loans that stipulate that it must provide housing to low-income tenants for a 30-year period.

Murcko said the suit, which was filed in Alameda County Superior Court, asks for an injunction stopping Oakland Community Housing from evicting the renters.

He said it also seeks damages for the renters, alleging that Oakland Community Housing failed to comply with health, safety, housing and building codes.

Murcko said he hopes there will be a hearing on the suit next week.

A spokeswoman at Oakland Community Housing said the agency has no comment on the suit.

Murcko said this is the third suit filed against Oakland Community Housing since August 2005 over conditions at the California Hotel.

He said that in the first suit in 2005, 43 tenants accused Oakland Community Housing of negligence that resulted in rats, bedbugs, and roach infestations.

The current suit alleges that Oakland Community Housing has allowed the apartments at the California Hotel 'to deteriorate to such an extent that they are uninhabitable.'

The suit alleges that smoke detectors are missing or not operating, large amounts of trash have accumulated, the heating system is defective, the electrical system is defective and security is poor.

It also claims that there is an 'infestation of vermin, rodents, cockroaches, bedbugs, spiders, fleas, rats and insects.'

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