South Pas Renters Joining Forces To Battle Evictions

About a dozen South Pas renters concerned over the recent spate of evictions in the city are preparing to address the City Council on Wednesday, Nov. 6, to make their voices heard — and in advance of that meeting, they presented the council this week with an emergency eviction moratorium ordinance, hoping the measure will pass at that Nov. 6 meeting.

The group, consisting of South Pasadena residents who received evictions and others who fear they may be next, met this week with a volunteer from the Pasadena Tenants Union (PTU) to consider their options. Together, the group crafted the ordinance, which calls for allowing evictions in the city with just cause only.

The L.A. City Council unanimously passed an ordinance last week that bans no-cause evictions.
Pasadena is considering an eviction moratorium, and Mayor Terry Tornek is planning for a “full discussion on it” on next week’s council agenda.

It is widely believed that the recent spate of renter evictions is tied to landlords trying to get ahead of the Tenant Protection Act signed this month by Gov. Gavin Newsom. That act caps rent increases at 5 percent annually and prevents landlords from evicting tenants without just cause. The bill goes into effect Jan. 1.

Anny Celsi, a 12-year resident of 334 Pasadena Ave., helped organize the meeting of residents this week to craft the proposed South Pas ordinance. She said all of her fellow tenants received 60-day eviction notices Oct. 2 from PEAK Management.
Celsi’s two bedroom apartment was $1,460 a month when she moved in, and she currently pays $1,850. The building was purchased by Kenneth P. Zuckerman and Jonathan D. Wong on Oct. 1, according to sales documents acquired by the Review. Celsi said she reached out to PEAK asking for additional options but got no reply.

Although she hadn’t interacted with City Council before and was not sure what to expect, she gathered fellow residents to share information and make it a group effort.

“We were able to understand the urgency and strategize and get a plan of what we should do next,” said Celsi.
PTU shared the body of the ordinance for Pasadena with Celsi’s group.

“Passing this ordinance, it shouldn’t be us against them,” said Celsi. “This should be a good thing for the city. This little loophole that happened with the state law was a mistake and it needs to be corrected. They’ve done that in Los Angeles and they’re probably going to do it in Pasadena and they should do it here. We should be protected from this kind of purge and gouge, and slash and burn. … We are the South Pasadena people and it should not be OK to just crowbar us out of here.”

Also present at the meeting was Christine Bullard, a nine-year resident of 609 Prospect Ave., who received her 60-day no-fault eviction notice Oct. 22.

“I feel like, as a human being, we’re just being dismissed and thrown out like trash,” said Bullard. “ ‘Yeah, happy holidays, we want you out.’ We pay our rent on time, we’re part of the community, we’re good people. We bring things to the community and yet we’re just being dismissed as individuals, as people, so the landlords can get higher rent. Profit over people. So it’s very sad and we’re angry and there’s a whole mix of feelings.”

Bullard noted that her building, managed by Tredco, was purchased two years ago and the rent for her two bedroom/two bath unit has remained at $1,400. Like Celsi, she said she also received no reply from the management company after numerous emails and calls.

After hearing the stories of fellow residents facing eviction, she is looking forward to attending next week’s City Council meeting and becoming involved, even if everything else fails.

“If I’m going to go out, I’m going to go out with my guns blazing, you know, because I want my voice to be heard because this is awful,” said Bullard. “It’s awful to have it happen to you, and it’s happening across South Pasadena. It’s a really horrible feeling.”