Oakland sues for inhumane conditionsBy Staff
Oakland City Attorney John Russo filed a lawsuit Thursday against the owners of two properties where tenants have complained about rodent and cockroach infestations, non-operating smoke detectors and heating units, and lead paint and mold.
Russo said property owners Liem H. Le and Lan H. Do signed an agreement with the city last October but haven't complied with it.
Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente and members of a group called the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now joined Russo at a news conference at the two properties at 2555 and 2567 Foothill Blvd. in Oakland.
Russo said, "Property owners have a legal and a moral responsibility to provide humane living conditions to tenants."
He said, "If landlords are unwilling to abide by common decency to provide habitable units then we will try to persuade them to do right. If we can't persuade them, we'll take them to court."
Guadalupe Gomez, a tenant and a member of ACORN, said, "We're paying renters. We're not living here for free."
Gomez said, "We have the right to decent living conditions. By partnering with the city we can achieve what we've been fighting for throughout the past year."
The lawsuit has four causes of action: violating Oakland Municipal Codes and California Health and Safety codes, maintaining a public nuisance and violating Oakland's rent control ordinance.
The Neighborhood Law Corps in the City Attorney's office settled a similar lawsuit in 2005 against a negligent landlord.
Russo said the settlement resulted in the complete rehabilitation of eighteen properties where families with children were plagued with deteriorating floors and ceilings, and infestations of mold, rats and cockroaches. The landlord paid the city $140,000 in fines.
Le and Do were unavailable for comment. According to a spokeswoman for the City Attorney's office, they are married and live in Bay Point.
Copyright ©2007 Bay City News. Published 01/12/2007.