EPA calls Page Mill Properties 'predatory'

City seeks help from CalPERS state retirement fund, which has invested in the Palo Alto-based propoerty firm, to help tenants

After almost a year of litigation, most of which the city has lost, the East Palo Alto City Council passed a resolution Tuesday night that was critical of Page Mill Properties use of a public employee pension fund to finance the purchases of apartment buildings in the city.

The resolution cited the "predatory real estate practices which result in pain and hardship to our residents."

The city called on CalPERS, the pension fund, as well as county, state and federal authorities to "use their political, economic and ethical influence" to stop Page Mill Properties' "predatory practices."

The resolution was approved on a 4-1 vote, with Councilman A. Peter Evans dissenting.

Starting two years ago, Page Mill Properties, which is also known as Woodland Park Management in some of its court filings, began buying apartment buildings west of U.S. Highway 101 and now owns 1,789 apartments in the city.

Difficulties between the city and Page Mill started late last year when the company announced rent increases for its tenants that were greater than allowed by the city's Rent Stabilization Ordinance.

The city's rent board was allowing 3.2 percent rent increases at the time, while Page Mill's rent increases averaged 9 percent, with some individual rent increases reportedly much higher.

The City Council in January unanimously approved a moratorium on rent increases greater than those allowed by the city's Rent Stabilization Board, and Page Mill then sued the city, and won.

The city and Page Mill have been in continuous litigation since then on a variety of issues, mostly related to the city's rent ordinance. There are still seven lawsuits pending between the two entities, but two of them have been combined and should reach a mutually agreeable settlement soon, Interim City Attorney Valerie Armento said.

The city, after losing several times in court, dropped its attempt in November to seek a permanent injunction against Page Mill's rent increases, which the company claimed was an admission by the city that its rent increases were legal, a characterization strongly disputed by city officials.

"While they claim to want to work cooperatively with the city, they clearly have not tried to do so," Armento said.

Mayor Ruben Abrica called Page Mill's actions "unconscionable and underhanded tactics."

"What we're seeing is a frontal attack on rent control in the city," Juliet Brodie, director of the Stanford Community Clinic, said. She represents 136 Page Mill tenants who have filed a class action lawsuit against Page Mill.

"I can't respond to open-ended press release allegations," Jim Shore, Page Mill's general counsel, said. "We have offered to sit down and try and work out our differences outside of court, but the city's only interested in legal aid society press releases."

"I'm sorry that the first act of the new mayor is (to) join in another legal assault on Page Mill," Shore continued. "As the courts have ruled, we are just trying to follow the city's own rent control ordinance."

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Like this comment
Posted by
a resident of Southgate
on Mar 2, 2009 at 9:35 am

Page Mil Properties is no angel here they increase rent by $500. or $600. per month without notice, issue a 3 day notice on the 5th, then place an EVICTION on families credit reports ensuring no one will ever rent to them again! Page Mil Properties turns loyal paying customers, Men, Women, & Children into permanent homeless. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Like this comment
Posted by Chris Lund
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 4, 2009 at 11:04 am

Please visit Web Link for updates on the controversy surrounding Page Mill.

Like this comment
Posted by Chris Owens
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2009 at 9:01 am

I am amazed by the above post. I lived in this community and had my rent increased as well but it NEEDED to happen. I saw the community change as Page Mill took over. It was safer, cleaner and a quieter place to live. I would rather pay the extra money and live somewhere safe. The above post would make it appear that they are just running around evicting people. NOT HAPPENING! If they are evicting it is for good reason. You get evicted when you deal drugs, trash the community or DON'T PAY YOUR RENT! Permanent Homeless...Whatever

Like this comment
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 6, 2009 at 1:45 pm

There had been some great changes in what Page Mill Property did for East Palo Alto,but the rent increase had hurt many of elders, family ect...ect... There are those who been living here for than a decade or two only to be force to move because of the rent increase. To see others come and go because of the high rent that is bieng force to those who want to live here. Page Mill Property had made this a monopoly only to gain wealth on our expence.

4 people like this
Posted by EPA Entrepreneur
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 22, 2015 at 1:33 pm

There IS a place where you can avoid crime, poverty, loud music at night, people you don't want to live with, people who don't want to live with you, families and elders who're being victimized economically. There is a place you can pay extra to get all of these amenities, plus a better grade of housing.

That place is called Palo Alto!

Move there!

--You, Chris Owens! We're all sure you can.

Plus, any company worth its salt in their business knows exactly what they're doing, and everyone knows they're doing it for money! Just like a Louisiana Plantation company knows what its doing.

Common people--citizens of the United States--should not need legal recourses to live their lives, and to feed their families. And there are hills aplenty in the bay area to "gentrify", and to "redevelop"--these hills are empty. Choose one, and leave the marginalized citizens of a small town alone. This isn't New England, or Chicago, but East Palo Alto; you can't just stop working at the Mill one day and start working in the meat packing factory the next, or the furniture workshop.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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