Whatever misunderstandings and anxieties there were along Crawford Avenue last week, there seems to be relief and contentment this week.
After a Monday evening meeting with the tenants who live in homes owned by Episcopal Community Services (ECS) adjacent to the old Scripps property, both ECS and renters seemed confident that misunderstandings had been cleared up and the move-out settlement was not only fair, but generous.
“My sense was that people were satisfied. Except for extending the time, I don’t think anyone could ask for anything better,” resident Chris Zarow said.
Marty Tamburrano, President & CEO of ECS, said that folks at the meeting “seemed to leave very grateful and very happy.” Several said during the meeting that they were surprised at the amount of moving assistance offered.
Thirteen of the 14 homes owned on the west side of Crawford and north side of Alameda were in attendance, and Zarow said ECS was “there in force” with ten representatives. Zarow said there was a sense of anticipation at the meeting, and Tamburrano said she felt there was no hostility.
Residents were given the legally-required 60-day eviction notice, but the actual final date is Feb. 28, 2013, which amounts to more than five months’ notice. Tamburrano said she went over the notice a number of times to ensure that tenants understood that though they we receiving it on Sept. 24, the move-out date at the bottom was for Feb. 28.
A letter given to the residents at the meeting laid out the terms of the settlement and emphasized that all residents were being given the same package, including:
- Two months’ rent will be rebated at the time of move-out
- An advance on the rebate if the tenant needs it to pay for the security deposit and first and last month’s rent on a new home
- Return of the security deposit
- Moving expense of $1,120 for individual renters or $3,364 for a household
- More than five months’ notice
- A bonus of $1,000 for those who move by Dec. 31, 2012
Tenants who have already moved will receive the same settlement. There will be no delay in issuing the check, Tamburrano said. When the keys are turned to property manager Richard Riegel, the check will be ready. As long as all personal property is removed, the full security deposit will be returned.
In our previous conversation with residents on Crawford, the move-out date had been a big concern. Residents originally understood it to be Dec. 31, and Zarow expressed her concerns to Jim Doyle, the Monte Cedro Project Coordinator for ECS. “I had said to Jim Doyle before all the turmoil, you want your tenants to leave happy, that’s what you want. Saying we were treated fairly.”
We asked Tamburrano if the negative reaction prior to the meeting was due to just not knowing what was going to happen. Residents said they had not received communication from ECS for a couple of years. She replied, “You know, that’s kind of a given in life. When we don’t know things, we imagine all sorts of things.
“We had heard concerns about the timeline, and we were able to adjust the timeline. To some of the tenants, that extra two months means a lot.” When the ECS team talked about the situation, she said, “One said, it’s hard for people to put a first and last months’ deposit together, so that’s where we came up with the idea of an advance. And people were relieved.”
Questions regarding demolition and construction came up, and how that will affect the homeowners on the east side of Crawford. Tamburrano said there will be a meeting later this year or after the holidays with the east side, and it will be public so other neighbors and anyone who may be affected can attend. There is a hotline that is checked every Friday and will be checked every weekday once activity begins. The number is (626) 432-4048.
As with the Scripps buildings, the houses on the west will be deconstructed rather than bulldozed by the general contractor, so that parts of the houses may be salvaged. Tamburrano said this was so as much of the buildings as possible could be recycled. “It’s a much more lengthy and expensive process, but it’s part of our social responsibility.”
As Zarow pointed out, though, some of the fixtures are very valuable, such as copper pipe and wire and the 15-foot-long floorboards which are no longer available. One house will remain during construction for the general contractor’s offices.
Residents asked if local contractors would be used, creating jobs in Altadena. Tamburrano said, “We’re not a government contract, so the general contractor can choose the most skilled people. Local people have the right to apply, so why not choose them if they bring the same skills as anybody else would?”
In the end, everyone seemed happy.
“One couple came up to me afterward and said, you just can’t imagine how happy and relieved we are, we didn’t think this was going to happen,” Tamburrano told us.
“I went home grateful for the opportunity to meet with them face to face. I think we all left with a feeling that these are good people in hard circumstances and we are really doing the best we can, and they understand our situation.”