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Peninsula | Health, Housing, and Public Services

Mega-Landlord Pulls Out Suddenly, Leaving Tenants in Fire Trap
by Eye on East Palo Alto
Thursday Sep 10th, 2009 12:27 PM
Page Mill Properties abruptly closed both their tony downtown Palo Alto office and their East Palo Alto property management office last week, but they abandoned the tenants long before that. The Menlo Park Fire Department says that only ONE of the current alarm systems is "even remotely working". The fire chief gave the giant landlord a citation and notice to repair months ago, but the situation remains dangerous.

Top Photo: Rent increases that flaunted East Palo Alto's rent stabilization ordinance drew protesters and police to Page Mill's HQ in downtown Palo Alto last year. Photo by R. Robertson

East Palo Alto's biggest landlord missed a $50 million balloon payment to the bank last month, creating a situation that is perplexing to tenants....Who now owns the 1700 plus apartments and other residential units that Page Mill Properties abandoned? According to newspaper accounts, Wells Fargo Bank said yesterday says it will head to court for third-party intervention. However, the bank is calling its discussions with Page Mill "confidential", leaving the tenants abandoned by the mega landlord and with many unanswered questions.

Page Mill Properties abruptly closed both their tony downtown Palo Alto office and their East Palo Alto offices last week. But they abandoned the tenants long before that. Tenants report that one swimming pool is now covered in algae, and onsite laundry facilities have long been broken, amongst many other problems. In the past the landlord raised safety concerns when it installed "security gates" that prevented ambulance and fire truck access to the property. The Menlo Park Fire Department told the Palo Alto Daily News that of nine buildings recently inspected, only ONE of the current alarm systems is working. "We gave them a citation, a notice to repair, back in the June/July time frame. They have not done that," said the Fire Chief.

Meanwhile Wells Fargo is trying to keep their discussions with the big landlord private. Some tenants are hoping to intervene with the court to get the situation remedied quickly, but since all this seems to signal the beginning of a bankruptcy, it's no longer clear whether jurisdiction still lies with San Mateo Superior Court or not. The situation may quickly elevate to a federal matter.
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September 1 ruling may have been final straw...WonderingFriday Sep 11th, 2009 4:19 PM