Unhappy Tenants At Aqua Complex, Marina Del Rey

Here are my previous reports on this.

I wrote a few months ago about the fall of real estate developer Laurence Gluck and the unhappy residents of the AQUA apartment complex at 4750 Lincoln Blvd, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292.

Aqua was formerly Marina Terrace & Archstone & Fiji Villas & Chateau Marina.

Aqua is managed and owned by BRE Properties. BRE Properties is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Yahoo summary.

Here’s a BRE building a mile away with similar complaints about BRE.

An unhappy tenant emails me: “Please post:

“Attn BRE Tenants:

If you have been a victim of BRE on any level please report them to Consumer Affairs. Once there are enough complaints they will be investigated for their unethical practices.

http://dca.lacounty.gov/Forms/CAComplaint.pdf

An unhappy tenant emails me: “There have been 4-5 break-ins to units and cars just over the last 2 weeks and BRE will not increase Security. One tenant had his remote stolen during the theft and BRE wanted to charge him $50 to replace it. When he got upset he was then brought into the office and lectured by our very unpleasant
Assistant Manager on how to treat people. Two other tenants…just last week…had their personal belongings stolen off their first floor
balconies. And a crowbar was used to break in to a unit on Monday.

I have seen a student crying because of how she was treated and an elderly man being completely ignored and blown off. The tenants have taken to video taping these incidents and will be putting them up on YouTube and I know that the press have received the petition with over 125 signatures.

The building is getting dirtier and dirtier by the day and the tenants
angrier and angrier by the day. There are doors in the stairwells that will not open. This is a fire hazard and BRE has known about it for months yet refuses to fix them.

Signs on gym equipment state “broken and down for repair” they were on for a month. The company just got here yesterday not sure what happened. But tenants had to beg for notices to be put up due to a tenant falling off treadmills when machines suddenly stopped. They didn’t want to put them up because they thought it would scare prospective tenants away so a tenant sent a certified letter to corporate and they put them up. The gym is filthy.”

Elevator Down For Three Weeks:

Elevator Floor Filthy

Feces Stains

Feces Stains

Trash Not Cleaned Up

All Gym Equipment Down For A Month

A tenant emails:

Dear Mr. Ford,

I noticed that you recently posted an article on Aqua. I am the resident who has drafted and has been spearheading the Petition to Render Aqua Habitable. I began circulating the Petition in December 2010, and to date, I have 145 signatures from residents attesting to the following: dog feces and urine in the hallways and stairwells going uncleaned for weeks at a time, beer bottles and cigarette butts cluttering the hallways, stairwells and common areas for weeks at a time, trash chutes overflowing as high as the fourth floor resulting in residents just throwing their trash in the trashroom and sometimes in the hallways, broken lobby and entrance doors in both buildings one and two resulting in a burglary (between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on a weekday), dozens of bikes stolen, one motorcycle stolen and dozens of cars broken into and lack of security despite written representations that we had “courtesy patrol” late at night, hazardous gym equipment, non-functional computer room.

Pretty much every single person who signed the petition had one horror story after another about how they were mistreated and abused by the BRE management they complained. Residents are terrified of complaining or calling the Health Department because the BRE management has been engaging in a pattern of retaliation: (1) by positing baseless Eviction Notices on their doors, (2) increasing rent by an unreasonable amount far greater than those who did not complain, (3) being charged excessive amounts for alleged damages to the apartment after they moved out and (4) even having Unlawful Detainer actions filed against them.

I complained repeatedly to the management downstairs about the gym equipment, in particular, the treadmills which kept slipping and crashing. After more than a month of my complaints, I was on the middle treadmill when the man directly to the left of me was going eight miles per hour and his treadmill suddenly crashed. There was a huge weight bar immediately behind his treadmill. He managed to break his fall by grabbing the siderail, but if he had fallen, he would have hit head pretty badly on the weight bar. I told him that I had been complaining about that very issue for over a month. The resident was livid and ran down at that time to complain. I worked out for another hour and a half. No one from management or maintenance came up to do anything about the treadmill.

The next day, I went to the gym and noticed that the treadmill was turned off but there was no broken sign. I then asked Reuben Miranda in management to put up a broken sign. He responded that he had done his job and refused to put up a broken sign. I went to the assistant manager, Jenna Bardin, and asked her to put up a broken sign. I informed her that I had personally observed residents turning machines which were off, back on thinking that it was off for energy saving reasons. She responded that BRE had no obligation to put up broken signs. She claimed that BRE wasn’t liable for any injuries occurring at the gym because residents sign a lease and there are signs in the gym stating that we used the gym “at our own risk.”

I responded that I was an attorney and that, by law, a party cannot a priori waive their liability for negligence. I further informed her that those signs only applied to accidents, not injuries directly caused by BRE’s negligence. She was hostile, rude and defensive. She also refused to put up a broken sign. That day, I sent an email and a letter by certified mail to the legal department of BRE’s corporate headquarter informing them that I had given verbal notice to the BRE employees of Aqua and that this now constituted written notice so that if someone was hurt on the treadmills, BRE would be liable not only for damages but punitives as well. Finally two days after the gentleman fell, there was a broken sign. The other two treadmills which did not have a broken signs, however, continued to slip and crash.

On October 27, 2010, Ron Saucedo of BRE Operations Management me the following email:

“Because of your recent inquiry regarding the state of the gym equipment at Aqua Marina del Rey, we would like to inform you of the results of the professional inspection performed by our specialized vendor. They have concluded that after examining each piece of exercise equipment, there are presently ‘no safety issues’”. Yet, the treadmills continued to slip and crash. Approximately a few weeks after Mr. Saucedo’s email, two treadmills had broken signs. Approximately one month after Mr. Saucedo’s email, all three treadmills and the adjacent elliptcal machine had broken signs and were broken for over a month.

On or about January 17, 2011, I ran a man named Patrick. He was an outside vendor from Exercise Euipment Service & Repair and was here to repair the treadmills. He gave me the following phone number for his business: 800-988-7736. I asked him why the machines were crashing and slipping. He informed me: (1) the treadmills had been installed four years ago, (2) they have to be maintained on a quarterly basis every year, (3) they had not been maintained at all since they were installed, (4) the rubber grip had worn down to a thin film causing the slippage and (5) all machines were connected to one circuit and prone to electrical surges causing them to crash. When I asked him how long these problems existed, he replied “a long time.” I asked if he would put this explanation in writing for me. He refused.

BRE Operations Manager’s October 2010 representation that the treadmills were not “hazards” could NOT have been true. According to Patrick of Exercise Equipment Service & Repair, both the slipping and crashing had existed for a “long time.” A treadmill that abruptly crashes in the middle of a vigorous workout is a hazard. Furthermore, how did the treadmills pass inspection when the grips had worn down to a thin film?

Worse, BRE was willing to jeopardize the well-being and health of its residents in order to make the apartment look good to new clients. The reason that the BRE management refuses to put up broken signs is because if they put up broken signs on everything that was broken, the entire building would be covered in broken signs. When they take new clients on a tour, they don’t want the new clients to see the broken signs and discover how bad the conditions are in this building. When the all treadmills had broken signs, the leasing agents would only show the gym to new clients through the door window. Now that they are fixed, the leasing people open the door and walk the tenants through the gym as part of the tour.

There is an entire hallway on the second floor that reeks of dog urine and feces. I complained about the same dog urine in the same location in the same stairwell on over SIX occasions. Dogs are territorial so if you don’t clean up the urine (by clean, I mean bleachng and scrubbing rather than patting it dry), another dog (even a housebroken one will urinate on the spot to mark its territory). One small patch of urine (which incidentally I slipped on) grew to a yellow smelly crust approximately six feet in length and one foot wide. I finally called the Health Department and told the management that I had called the Health Department which is when they finally cleaned the urine. One woman who is seven months pregnant and has a three year infant saw two big men climbing over her patio which faces an enclosed courtyard accessible only to those already in the residence and chased them away. Another woman was assaulted and battered inside the apartment on New Year’s Eve. The main lobby doors were broken, and there was no security guard. As a result, a naked and insane transient got into the building and assaulted and battered her. She filed a police report. The stories are endless. The majority of the people who signed the petition have been victimized in one way or another. Many have been victims of crimes. Many have been victims of BRE’s retaliation because they complained to the Health Department or the Housing Authority.

I am also one of the victims. BRE filed an unlawful detainer action against me because I drafted and circulated this petition. I ALWAYS pay my rent on time, and I have very good credit. They claimed that I was a “nuisance to the community” because they had no other basis to evict me. However, I’m quiet as mouse and am friends with all my neighbors. No tenant has ever complained about me. I do not ever play the television at a loud volume because I don’t own a television. I do not ever play music loudly because I have not been able to find the cord to the stereo. I do not have guests over because I am only a third unpacked, and my apartment is filthy (it was filthy and uncleaned when I moved in and remains in that condition). I had a work order with Stellar to remedy these issues when BRE abruptly took over and the apartment remains dirty, unpainted with filthy carpets. I have never thrown a party. I do not even run the washing machine or the dishwasher after 8:00 p.m.

I am more than happy to forward you the petition with signatures, if you would like. Many of the residents who signed are scared that the management will retaliate against them. I’m pretty sure that some will not be happy seeing their names in the public domain. However, all of them signed with their apartment numbers and should be very easy to reach.

Mr. Ford,

My apologies for bugging you, but the picture of the beer bottle is from the security guard’s station taken at 4:00 a.m. On or about December 2010, I went down to the computing center (which is directly adjacent to the main lobby where the night security guard is stationed) at around midnight to print a huge document. When I came downstairs to the main lobby, there was no security guard but a beer bottle at this station. I went into the computing center. At the time, there were two girls in the computing center. I asked them if they had seen a security guard. They responded no, but that there was a beer bottle if I wanted it. I asked them when they had observed the beer bottle. They told me that they came down approximately an hour and a half earlier and had noticed the beer bottle but no security guard.

I spent the next two hours printing (it was a massive print job and the printer is very slow). During this time, I poked my head out every fifteen minutes. During this entire time, there was no security guard but the beer bottle was still there. I went back upstairs, worked for another two hours and came down at 4:00 a.m. This time I brought a camera with me. Again there was no security guard and the beer bottle was still there. I printed for another half hour and when I came out, the security guard was missing and the beer bottle was still there.

The next day, I complained to Jenna Bardin. On or about November 2010, all the residents received a letter stating that we had late night “courtesy patrol.” I told her that I had pictures and evidence that the “courtesy patrol” had not been at his station from at least 10:30 p.m. until 4:30 a.m.. I asked her where the “courtesy patrol” had been. She responded that the “courtesy patrol” is not supposed to be stationed in the main lobby but is supposed to “roam” during his entire shift. I told her that on prior occasions, when I came home late at night, the “courtesy patrol” was alwas stationed at the main desk. I asked her why the “courtesy patrol” would allow a beer bottle to sit at his station for more than six hours. She responded that the “courtesy patrol” is supposed to patrol, not pick up trash. Frankly, I think that this was another blatant lie. Why would a security guard let a beer bottle sit at his station all night? Even if he is not supposed to pick up trash, why would be want residents to think he was drinking on the job? Also, contrary to her assertions, I and other residents have observed the security guard sitting at the front desk during his work hours. They roam occasionally – about once every hour or so to check in on the common areas – but for most of their shift, they sit at the front desk in building one.

Today, I spoke with a resident who informed me that she called the “courtesy patrol” late one night because the residents above her were having a very loud party. She informed me that the guard was obviously very “high.” He was so high that when he went to ring the doorbell, he kept ‘ringing’ the peephole thinking that it was the doorbell. Finally, her boyfriend reached over and rang the doorbell. She told me that he was clearly on drugs or alcohol because he was slurring his words and kept swaying.

JANE EMAILS: Hi Luke,
My boyfriend and I are, sadly, residents of the Aqua Apartments in
Marina Del Rey. We saw the article you wrote, and wanted to contact
you as well. We have had all sorts of problems since the new BRE
management moved into the building, including non-enforcement of noise
ordinance clauses in our lease, huge issues with the mandatory cable
and internet company, (who says they can’t work with us because BRE is
unwilling to work with them) constantly broken elevators and gym
equipment, dog feces and urine smeared into the carpets in various
parts of the building, over flowing trash chutes, and most
importantly, security issues. There have been numerous break ins and
assaults in the previous weeks that make me scared to walk from my car
to the elevator (where the security cameras have been removed). We
know so many people are having these issues, and we want out of our
lease so badly. I just wanted to express my sincere thanks for the
publishing of your article, and to reach out to see if there is
anything I can do to aid the uprising against BRE properties. Thanks
for your time! I’ve copied by boyfriend on this e-mail; please feel
free to contact us at any time with suggestions or if we can help out.
Thanks!!

About Luke Ford

Raised a Seventh-Day Adventist at Avondale College in Australia, Luke Ford moved to California in 1977. He graduated from Placer High School in 1984, reported the news at KAHI/KHYL radio for three years, attended Sierra College and UCLA, was largely bedridden by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for six years, and converted to Judaism in 1993. From 1997-2007, Luke made his living from blogging. Living by Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com), he now teaches the Alexander Technique (moving the way the body likes to move). Lessons cost $100 each and last about 45 minutes. In 2011, Luke completed a three-year teaching course at the Alexander Training Institute of Los Angeles. His personal Alexander Technique website is Alexander90210.com. Luke is the author of five books, including: » The Producers: Profiles in Frustration » Yesterday’s News Tomorrow: Inside American Jewish Journalism
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