“Effective immediately, any current resident who received a 60-day notice to vacate can ignore that notice.”
That was the note worried residents at the 32-unit apartment complex at 635 Prospect Ave. in South Pasadena received Friday, less than 48 hours after the South Pasadena City Council unanimously approved a temporary moratorium on “no cause” evictions.
But most of the two-dozen or so residents at 635 Prospect who received eviction notices have already left, being among the many state-wide victims of a loophole in the state’s new Tenants Protection Act.
The new building manager at 635 Prospect, which was purchased in September for $11 million, referred all inquiries Anchor Pacifica, the Pasadena-based real-estate firm that manages the building and 23 other rental properties in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Neither the company nor its president, Steven C. Botsford, have responded to multiple messages.
Over the past 25 years in Los Angeles County County courts alone, Anchor Pacifica has been involved in over 1,200 unlawful detainer or other real-estate-related lawsuits.
“We will be cooperating fully with the new law,” said the note, signed by “the Anchor Management Team.” It said if tenants still want to move, they must provide written notice of their intent.
“We support the city and the community of South Pasadena with the legislation put forth, which was due in part to the strong community effort from this building. We admire this sense of community,” the note added.
Evelyn Allen, a former resident who has already relocated, said that upon hearing of the letter rescinding evictions, she was relieved for the few tenants who have not left, but “angry for how much the owner and property manager did get away with.” Allen, who led a group of tenants to fight the evictions, said the rescission represents a “bittersweet victory.”
She was incredulous about the letter’s praise for the tenants’ effort to fight back. “It rubbed me the wrong way to have them say they admired our sense of community and recognize the temporary moratorium was a result of our community banding together when they were the ones who ripped apart our community.”
Allen said she remains concerned for renters who received similar notes at other addresses in town but are isolated in smaller buildings to put together equal clout.
“OK, that’s nice,” thought Larry Estrada, one of the last remaining residents when he came home Friday evening to see the note at the door of his second-floor unit. An employment attorney for the Army Corps, Estrada has lived at 635 Prospect for 10 years and was planning on five more before retiring and moving on.
It’d been three months since his rent was raised 10 percent and almost six weeks since he got his “60-Day Notice to Terminate Tenancy.” Estrada has looked at six other places and traded messages with many other prospective apartment managers. Now, having just located a new place near Raymond Hill where he’d pay 7 percent more, and with his living room piled high with the boxes he’s been packing, he had to think.
“Obviously this place isn’t great,” he said of the worn, 65-year-old building on the city’s north end. “But it’s been home for 10 years. I’m used to it and I’m comfortable here. And I was comfortable with my neighbors. We never had problems with anyone.”
Estrada didn’t even get notice that the long-time on-site building manager had left, finding out only when he called the old manager to complain the drier had taken his quarters and promptly broken down.
Estrada is at pains to say he does not begrudge the new owners trying to make a profit. “It’s just the way they went about it, the impact on all the other families, especially the ones with children. I don’t think they thought about it or, to the extent they did, they didn’t care.”
As the eviction notices poured in, he and his neighbors, led by Evelyn Allen, began comparing stories and sharing news. They made a fuss, flooded social media, lobbied the city and found allies among the city’s political movers. The city organized at least one meeting with them, giving some hope. Word that tenants of at least six other buildings in town have also received “no fault” eviction notices spread. Then the Council set its emergency meeting and approved the moratorium.
But Estrada has already taken two days of vacation to pack and find his new unit. Plans for Thanksgiving, when he normally drives to Bakersfield to be with his mother and siblings, are uncertain because that’s the weekend he has to be out by.
“Given what the owners have done, they will do it again or something similar. It’s probably best to just leave now and have it done,” Estrada concludes. “I’m going to move.”