Wells Fargo now biggest East Palo Alto landlord | March 5, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 5, 2010

Wells Fargo now biggest East Palo Alto landlord

Bank becomes city's biggest landlord after foreclosure auction attracts no bids

by Gennady Sheyner

Wells Fargo took ownership of more than 1,800 housing units in East Palo Alto's Woodland Park neighborhood Tuesday afternoon, officially becoming the city's largest landlord.

This story contains 769 words.

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Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be e-mailed at gsheyner@paweekly.com.


3 people like this
Posted by Yay!
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 3, 2010 at 10:35 am

This is better news than continuation of ownership by Page Mill Properties. However, the property management service needs to get the heave-ho. They are incompetent and rude, for the most part. They continually violate tenant rights and put their employer in legal jeopardy.

5 people like this
Posted by Chris Lund
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 3, 2010 at 10:44 am

Please visit www.epa-tenants.org for more information on Page Mill Properties and the East Palo Alto apartment portfolio.

1 person likes this
Posted by Arn Cenedella
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 3, 2010 at 3:50 pm

I represented 3 East Palo Alto property owners who sold their properties to Page Mill Properties. In my opinion, Page Mill paid very high prices for the properties purchased. Hopefully, Wells Fargo will be able to sell these properties to smaller more local investors and potential owner occupants who will take better care of these properties and help the West of 101 neighborhood improve. There has been much positive progress in East Palo Alto over the past 10 years - the construction of the IKEA/Home Depot east of the freeway and of the new office buildings at University Circle west of the freeway in the area formerly known as Whisky Gulch.
Arn Cenedella

7 people like this
Posted by Raze It
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2010 at 6:13 pm

The new businesses are fantastic but they are on an island. EPA is still crime-ridden. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff].

5 people like this
Posted by good job
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 4, 2010 at 5:17 am

Wow, what a great outcome from all that "tenants' rights" agitation!

Bankrupt and now gone owners...

and wait till you see how great a BANK is at managing properties, and how quickly they sell..to no matter whom...for as little as possible to unload the properties..and do you think that the new owners will have any money left to indulge in fictional "rights" of tenants?

good luck with that!

good job!!

I suspect the next time someone wants to agitate for more "tenants rights", all the neighbors will rise up, duct tape him/her, and shut the closet door!

10 people like this
Posted by Economist
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 4, 2010 at 9:18 am

Shocking logic, makes absolutely no sense! Zero understanding how investments in real estate work. People want a subsidy, but who will pay for it? WF can afford the write off?

1 person likes this
Posted by Yay!
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 4, 2010 at 10:45 am

Hey good job, clearly, you don't know what you're writing about. EPA has rent stabilization, which means tenants' rights matter. We have a good rent board and tenants' rights groups as well as infomed city council members working on a variety of issues. Page Mill Properties thought they could swoop in and prey on us, but it didn't work the way they wanted, for many reasons. Predatory equity is awful because everyone pays for it - us as taxpayers, as bank customers, as people with retirement plans, as tenants, as property owners.

I deeply appreciate the hard work of the tenant activists, whether they donated money, time or talent to these issues. Tenants on the west side are lucky to have epa-tenants.org, YUCA and to recognize that standing up for our legal rights was important.

EPA also gets a say in the matter about who Wells sells to. While some of it is a crapshoot, not all of it is.

Funny that people outside of EPA and/or those who lack knowledge of the city, county and state laws and workings of housing don't know how it all works. Educate yourself by visiting epa-tenants.org, by reading the bill Ammiano has introduced about predatory equity investment, read the WSJ articles. You might learn enough to write a better-informed opinion.

3 people like this
Posted by P.A. Native
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 4, 2010 at 11:23 am

Dear Editor,

Your censorship policy makes abosolutely no sense to me. How is it that portions of my post are removed when I tell someone that using the word "retarded" isn't very classy, but when someone says...

"If all the apartments were burned down and then rebuilt with new tenants, that would be positive progress."

...that's cool. I guess you agree with this perspective. That's what I take from it.

4 people like this
Posted by Yay!
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 4, 2010 at 1:07 pm

P.A. Native - fwiw, I agree with you. Sometimes the editors are, imo, a little short-sighted.

1 person likes this
Posted by Rebecca
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 5, 2010 at 11:19 am

"Page Mill Properties thought they could swoop in and prey on us" - this is a really funny comment, reminds me of Soviet Union's anti-capitalist grotesque caricatures depicting fat-cat capitalists holding bags of dollars in one hand and squeezing the neck of proletariat by the other:) Martin Luther King once said that "nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance". It is pure ignorance that made people angry at Page Mill, they believe that real estate investing is a predatory practice and not just a pure "numbers and sense":) Page Mill was losing money on this investment and had no other choice but walk away from this investment (losing a lot of money in downpayment) because it was a private venture and they couldn't afford to subsidize rent. Just like people walk away from foreclosures they can no longer afford. Who loses in all this? The investors lose downpayments, banks lose on price differential and the government (or we the people) have to pay to bail the banks out.... So people who demand rent control demand that the rest of world pays for it. Redistribution of wealth as we know it. Hooray, revolution! Let't take the money from the rich and divide it all!

8 people like this
Posted by Yay!
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 6, 2010 at 12:08 am

Rebecca, I don't know where you've been getting your info, but clearly not from anywhere legit. EPA has had rent control for many years, for both the good and bad sides of it. Page Mill wasn't investing, they were preying. They didn't walk away, they defaulted, knowing for a long time they'd miss their 50 mil payment because they bought too much property at inflated prices, had a high burn rate and had plenty of legal fees. They were damaging, fly-by-night landlords. Real estate ventures are always risky where there's rent control, so no pity. They did prey on many people. Their actions of harassment, illegal evictions, illegal rent increases, illegal LLC formation, nasty lawsuits, spying on a tenant activist, ignoring serious habitability violations and poor treatment of their own staff are all well known in town. EPA has some good landlords, and Page Mill wasn't one of them. They have badly messed over CalPERS as well as their lenders, through no fault of their tenants or the City. The blame lies with them for their illegal tactics and with the housing market for bad timing. In other words, a perfect storm of greed, bad management, illegal tactics, incompetence and terrible timing, leading to default. he Page Mill officers should be forced to live in one of their worst complexes as some bad landlords have been punished in the past by the judge sentencing them.

Educate yourself about this issue so that you can at least post informed opinions.

5 people like this
Posted by BigBusiness
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 6, 2010 at 6:21 am

The bigger picture and goal for this neighborhood will remain the same. Wells Fargo and any developer that owns the portfolio of properties is out to make money. This is how it will be done:
1) Unincorporate the city's entire western side
2) Property values automatically increase
3) Raise entire neighborhood
4) Devlop McMansions in a gated community or Law Offices

8 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

Hey BigBusiness - Page Mill Properties just tried to remove the west side of EPA from EPA and the county wouldn't agree. They found the request appalling and ridiculous. If you are interested in info on that recent process, I can post some links.

The bank does need to make money off of the portfolio of properties, but their retention of BRIDGE Housing as a consultant is a pretty decent sign that they mean well. Time will tell...and people who care have to remain vigilant.

10 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 13, 2010 at 5:58 pm

What people continue to ignore about East Palo Alto is this: the county is required by the state to have affordable housing, and the county has labelled much of the city of EPA as meeting its requirement. So these bizarre fantasies of tearing everything down and driving out the poor (or doing worse, shame on you people!) are just sick revenge fantasies about hating the poor. It is possible to be constructive in the pursuit of affordable housing, and the City of EPA is trying to do just that.

Page Mill was not interested in playing along. They were disgusting, law-breaking bunch that had a sideline in terror. They knew nothing about responsible management and did everything incorrectly. Wachovia gave them way too much money because they were convinced that "if you can only break rent control, you'll make a killing." Well guess what, Page Mill's decline had nothing to do with rent control: they just didn't improve the units enough (or have the right units) to get back what they paid.

Folks, when a broker comes on line and tells you that Page Mill overpaid, they definitely overpaid. They weren't looking to improve the housing, they were looking to use nasty methods to terrorize people out. That's not fair dealing, any more than blackmail, extortion, kidnapping or racketeering are: they were using the banks money to run people out of town, and they knew they could walk away (non-recourse loan) to do it. Truth is if an individual owned those properties, they wouldn't not have behaved in the nasty aggressive way Page Mill did. But an individual would actually have to pick up the tab. Page Mill will probably walk away from it, unless the investors and bank wise up and investigate these bozos for fraud, which, if you watched these guys in action, almost had to be part of the game.

I wish EPA luck in cleaning up this mess. The Page Mill people were a disaster, and they exercised zero responsibility as part of doing business/fraud. Weren't these the guys who, after all, electrocuted one of their workers because they couldn't be bothered with basic OSHA regulations?

Shame on Wells/Wachovia for backing these guys. The scheme couldn't have worked either in the law of EPA or according to the laws of the pure marketplace. Let's hope that Wells shows some real leadership and sells the portfolio to honest, non-speculative investors.


10 people like this
Posted by good job
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 13, 2010 at 6:12 pm

tenants "rights" shmights...

the bottom line is, are the tenants better off or worse off now than 3 years ago? Will they be better off or worse off in 3 more years?

I am making my bet that the answer to both questions are "no".

So, "tenants rights", "workers rights", "students rights" blah blah blah..is all from the same ideological ilk, from Marx to Mao, from Stalin to Castro to Chavez...always with the same results.

enjoy them

10 people like this
Posted by Doris
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 10, 2010 at 2:23 pm

I too have been victimized even though my rent was increased through the housing authority, from $700.00 to $1300.00. I was told that due to me being on housing that the reduction will not be directed to me, cause of the state law on the Housing Guide lines. Is this true, if anyone knows something that might help me to also get what is deserved to me too. I just don't see how this could not apply to me. The increase is o.k but the reduction is not? Who can I take my case to.

Please advise.

1 person likes this
Posted by Smit
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2016 at 12:16 pm

How Rent Control Reduces Affordable Housing

Web Link

13 people like this
Posted by Not Going Very Wells
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2016 at 1:37 pm

I have no trust in Wells Fargo whatsoever. Several years ago they let someone forge my father's name on the account I had joint with him (my father). He had just died the night before, and this person walked into the bank, was not asked for ID, and she forged my father's name on a withdrawal form to steal almost all the money in that account! The bank employee apparently did not realize that my father's unusual name was NOT a woman's name, and let her do this!

Then, adding insult to injury, they continue to refuse to make good on THEIR mistake, in spite of the police, a lawyer, and a judge holding them accountable.

Do not trust Wells Fargo--they have no ethics!

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