Compiled by Kamala Kirk

City sues Santa Monica landlords for fraudulently trying to evict tenants

The City Attorney’s Office, Public Rights Division, recently filed a lawsuit against local landlords for violations of the city’s tenant harassment ordinance and eviction moratorium.

According to the complaint, starting in 2017 when the defendants purchased the 30-unit apartment building, the defendants have “engaged in a campaign to empty out the building of long-term tenants.”

Santa Monica Rent Control Board records indicated that 23 of the units were vacant at the time the complaint was filed. The city further alleges the defendants engaged in unlawful behavior toward five of the last remaining tenants including fraud, intimidation and attempted evictions without justification.

The named defendants, Youseph Golshirazian, Hanokh Golshirazian and SoCal Investment Company LLC, own and manage the multiresidential property at 153 San Vicente Boulevard in Santa Monica.

The complaint alleges that in August 2020 the defendants informed five rent-controlled tenants that the city had approved plans for major repairs and all that remained was for rent control to approve the temporary relocation plans for the tenants. The defendants asked the tenants to sign a temporary move out agreement and assured them that they could move back in once the work was completed.

In another letter, the defendants indicated that once the repair work began, the building would be uninhabitable and refusal to temporarily relocate would constitute a nuisance.

Attorneys from the Santa Monica Rent Control Board and the city wrote to the defendants indicating that their letters contained multiple false and misleading statements, and that the proposed remodeling plans had not been approved nor were the tenants required by law or any city order to be temporarily relocated.

The five tenants refused to temporarily relocate for fear that the landlords wouldn’t allow them to move back in after the work was completed, and due to COVID-19 public health concerns. In November, the defendants filed unlawful detainer actions against the tenants based on their refusal to temporarily relocate for work that had not been permitted.

In December, the tenants went to court to fight the evictions with legal aid attorneys from LAFLA-Santa Monica. The defendants dropped the eviction actions, only to then serve the tenants with a new three-day notice to quit.

The tenants have lived in their rent-controlled apartments for between four and 15 years, and include a family with two minor children, and a couple who are senior citizens over the age of 70.

According to the complaint, at the time it was filed the city had not approved the proposed construction work at the building and at least two of the vacant units were listed as vacation rentals on Airbnb. The complaint contends that the property was also advertised for sale on Loopnet.com, where it stated that “only five units are currently occupied and the seller is in the process of completing the buy-outs.”

“It is always illegal for landlords to harass or otherwise threaten tenants’ housing security with false or misleading statements,” said George Cardona, interim city attorney. “It is even worse when that happens during the middle of a public health and economic crisis. The city will take all appropriate actions against landlords who violate the city’s tenant protection laws and help tenants stay housed in their homes.”


Culver City accepting applications for commissions, boards and committees

The City Clerk’s Office announced a special interim process to fill current vacancies for Culver City Commissions, Committees and Boards (CBCs). Five openings are available to Culver City residents on the following bodies:

• Civil Service Commission (two positions: Seat 2 and Seat 3)

• Committee on Homelessness (one position: Seat 5)

• Fiesta La Ballona Committee (one position: Seat 1)

• Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission (one position: Seat 5)

Appointments for these openings are tentatively scheduled to be considered by the City Council at the regular meeting on March 8. Applications will be accepted by the city clerk’s office through 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22. Late applications may not be accepted.

While appointments are made annually, an application may be completed at any time. All interested persons are encouraged to apply for all positions in which they have an interest.

Applications will be accepted online, by mail, by fax to 310-253-5830 or electronically to city.clerk@culvercity.org.

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