Tenants and Advocates take property owners to small claims court for allowing illegal activity at their businesses. This in an effort to make owners responsible for what happens around their businesses.
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Property Owners in Tenderloin Sued
62 plaintiffs accuse them of allowing drugs, violence.
In a novel attempt to combat the Tenderloin’s drug-related social problems, a coalition of landlords and tenants have sued two Piedmont residents who own properties in the Tenderloin for damages resulting in “emotional distress and loss of income.”
Sixty-two landlords, tenants and businesses Tuesday made those charges in separate small claims court suits in San Francisco, charging Gus and Yvonne Vlazakis of Piedmont with maintaining a property in such a way as to allow drug dealing and shootings in the area.
One plaintiff is Neveo Mosser, owner of Central Towers, a low-income, 300-unit apartment building at 350 Turk St.
“Our targets are the Hurley Hotel and the Maryland Market,” said Mosser, who is among those organizing the effort.
“The market caters to drug users and dealers who obstruct the sidewalk,” he said. “There are many shootings in front of the store, which primarily sells alcoholic beverages.”
Because of the activities, the plaintiffs “are not able to sleep at night, have been assaulted by the store’s customers and are unable to make it to work.”
In Mosser’s case, he said, “I have had great difficulty renting my apartments’ lower floors.”
Vlazakis is ill and was unable to be interviewed. The attorney for the Vlazakises couldn’t be reached for comment.
Vlazakis and his wife lease the hotel and the adjacent store at Turk and Leavenworth streets to operators, Mosser noted.
“We’re taking the law in our own hands because we’re not getting cooperation from City Hall,” Mosser added.
The effort against the hotel and market follows a similar strategy the Tenderloin group used against an Eddy Street building overrun by crack users, “which had a devastating effect on the neighborhood,” Mosser said.
The plaintiffs won a judgment in small claims court of $82,000 against the Eddy Street property owner. The judgment was upheld recently in Superior Court, Mosser said.
Citizens’ groups throughout the Bay Area have turned to small claims courts to attack problem properties that have defied efforts by police and city code enforcement inspectors to clean them up.
Randy Shaw, director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, applauded the lawsuit filed Tuesday, calling the move unprecedented in that “we have property owners going after property owners.”
The suit is “a critical step in rebuilding the Tenderloin; Mosser deserves tremendous credit,” Shaw said, for his Leadership. “We’re trying to establish that property owners must take responsibility for allowing drug sales in and around their property.”