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East Bay | Health, Housing, and Public Services

Shoddy work performed by nonprofit organization at Effie's House Project
by Lynda Carson ( tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com )
Thursday Jan 23rd, 2014 3:00 AM
It appears that someone needs to take a good hard look at the Effie's House Project, to determine why shoddy construction work has been occurring at the project.

[[[In Memory of Effie's House tenant's Greg Laney who leaped to his death from the roof of Effie's House on January 18, 2008, Gwendolyn Penny who was found dead in her apartment a few years later, and Rose Brown who passed away in recent months from throat cancer.]]]


Shoddy work performed by nonprofit organization at Effie's House Project

By Lynda Carson - January 23, 2014

Oakland - On March 16, 2010, the Oakland City Council voted to pass a resolution to increase the amount of a preservation and rehabilitation loan to the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) by $1,260,000 for a total loan amount of $2,560,000 for what was dubbed as the Effie's House Project, located at 829 E. 19th St., Oakland. EBALDC is one of Oakland's largest nonprofit so-called affordable housing developers.

The 21 unit residential building is owned by the Ivy Hill Development Corporation an affiliate of EBALDC, and EBALDC is the controlling entity of the property. In 1997, EBALDC payed around $461,000 for the 21 unit residential building, and according to the Alameda County Tax Assessor's Office during March of 2011, the total taxable value for the property was currently around $581,908.

EBALDC hired the AmOne Corporation out of San Francisco as the General Contractor for the massive rehab project that began in earnest around August and September of 2011, and the question currently arises as to what EBALDC actually got for all of the money that has been spent so far on the massive rehab project.

For starters, since the huge rehab project began during August of 2011, the tenant's of Effie's House had no idea that two and a half years later as a direct result of shoddy construction work, several large gaping holes (two and one half foot, by one and a half foot) would still exist in the common area ceilings of the first and third floors of their residential building. This is in addition to a large gaping hole in the ceiling of the small recycling room, and unpainted water pipes in the same room.

Some of the clear plastic wrap used to cover the large square holes in the ceiling of the common area parts of the building, are currently ripped wide open and left dangling above the head's of the tenants as they walk to their apartments. This has gone on for the past two years or more.

Other large round holes can still be found in the acoustic ceiling tiles near the managers office in the bottom residential floor of the building, and more large holes can be found in the ceiling of the laundry room.

More shoddy work is visible with some of the exposed water pipes that need painting in the common areas of the building that are part of the incredibly expensive fire suppression sprinkler system installed throughout the building by a company called San Francisco Fire Protection, and their monitoring service.

At times, false fire alarms can be heard going off weekly in the building when no fires are apparent, and the tenants are fearful that the fire sprinkler system installed in their apartments will some day ruin all of their possessions, and force them out of their housing.

Making matters worse, as part of the super expensive fire suppression system that was installed at the Effie's House Project by EBALDC and AmOne Corporation during the past two and a half years, there is a magnetic locking door system that was installed for the fire doors on all four floors of the building. The magnetic locking door system is supposed to release the fire suppression doors in the common areas of the building on all four floors so that they may automatically close in the event of a fire, as a way to save lives and protect property.

Incredibly, during the past year as a direct result of shoddy work, three out of the four magnetic locking fire suppression doors in the common areas of the building fail to close all the way during emergencies, and they only close half way as a result of getting snagged on the carpeting of the common area floors.

When questioned about the ongoing situation with the large holes in the ceilings during the past two and a half years, the false fire alarms going off in the building, and the incredibly expensive magnetic locking doors in the common areas that fail to close during emergencies because they get snagged on the carpeting? On January 22, 2014, Building Manager Danny Chen denied that there was a problem, and stated that an inspection of the work being done at the property has not been scheduled yet, as a way to deflect any criticism of the project.

More shoddy work occurred at the Effie's House Project when EBALDC payed a small fortune to have around 20 feet of concrete stairs torn out on each side of the exterior part of the building, and new concrete stairs were installed. However, the problem is that despite the codes in place that require the new concrete steps to have a hand railing installed on both sides of the stairways during installation, as a direct result of shoddy construction work there is currently only one hand rail for each stairway that was installed. Building Manager Mr. Chen denies that there is a problem

Another massive amount of money wasted at the Effie's House Project occurred when EBALDC had all of the exterior window frames of the building painted twice, shortly before the same old windows and window frames were torn out and replaced with new double-pane windows during the past year and a half. It took a painting crew around three weeks or more to paint all of the window frames twice, that were replaced a few months.

Other problems occurred since the massive rehab project began, and in one case the City of Oakland had to order EBALDC to remove a huge pile of garbage and debris along the side of the building at one point as a result of the massive rehab project.

And Vector Control was called in at one point when a rat infestation occurred during the past year in the trash area, and EBALDC was told to keep the trash area clean, and to cover up a hole where the rats burrowed in to the trash area. Despite the fact that dead rats were left laying around for days near the trash area and along the side of the building, Mr. Chen still denies that there was a rat problem at the property. He often leaves the door leading to the garbage area wide open to get some fresh air into the building, and tenants are concerned thatt rats will enter the building. Making matters worse, one of the residents in a wheelchair dumps his trash on to some steps next to the back door that tenants use to go the garbage area. Tenants have to watch out so that they do not trip on the bags of trash, or slip on the grease that is left on the stairs by the trash. Once again, Mr. Chen fails to see a problem with this situation, and allows it to continue.

Another ongoing unlawful situation occurs every Thursday when the maintenance man named Fuk Shan generally takes out the recycling bins to the street between 8:00am and 10:00am in the morning. However, the Oakland municipal codes forbid landlords from placing their recycling bins out on to the streets before 5:00pm, on the evening before the recycling bins are to be picked up on the following day.

Currently there has not been a resident manager or so-called on-site manager at the Effie's House Project during the past three months, and the residents do not miss the former on-site manager named William Birdsahl who would threaten to call the police on tenants, when they knocked on his door to ask for assistance.

Lastly, despite the massive amounts of money being spent on the Effie's House Project, at times the maintenance man Fuk Shan fails to vacuum the carpets in the common area hallways for weeks at a time, even though his job description states that he is supposed to vacuum the hallway common area floors at least once a week. This results in the tenant's apartments becoming overwhelmed by all of the dust that is being created by the massive on-going $2.5 million rehab project during the past two and a half years. At times tenant's complain of coughing and congestion in their lungs, as a direct result of all the dust that is in the building.

It appears that someone needs to take a good hard look at the Effie's House Project, to determine why shoddy construction work has been occurring at the project.

Lynda Carson is a longtime resident of Effie's House and can be reached at tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com