Thursday, January 20, 2011

California Tenants Elect Donald Sterling and David Taran to Landlord Hall of Shame

Tenants across the state elected David Sterling of Los Angeles and David Taran / Page Mill Properties of East Palo Alto as the inaugural inductees to Tenants Together’s Landlord Hall of Shame.

The Landlord Hall of Shame is designed to shine a public spotlight on California’s bad landlords and send a clear message that their actions will be announced and publicized.

Throughout 2010, California tenants suggested nominees for induction into the Hall of Shame. Mr. Sterling and Mr. Taran distinguished themselves from this list of candidates by the egregiousness and scale of their bad conduct.

Donald Sterling, LA Clippers owner and LA-area mega landlord, has been involved in a number of out-of-court settlements in discrimination cases. In 2009, Sterling paid the Department of Justice (DOJ) the largest settlement ever involving a housing discrimination case. According to the DOJ, Sterling "engaged in a pattern or practice of discriminating on the basis of race, national origin, and family status." The DOJ stated that Sterling "refused to rent to African Americans and that his conduct was willful." In 2006, the Housing Rights Center in Los Angeles sued Sterling for discrimination, a case that Sterling settled for an undisclosed amount that included over $5 million in fees. Sterling has also been sued for harassment and employment discrimination based on race by NBA legend and former Clippers General Manager Elgin Baylor.

David Taran, through his company Page Mill Properties, orchestrated and executed a scheme to evict thousands of rent controlled tenants in the city of East Palo Alto (EPA). After acquiring more than half of the rent controlled housing in EPA, this landlord soon began imposing exorbitant rent hikes and aggressively displacing tenants from their homes. Within a few years, the scheme imploded with all units going into foreclosure in 2010, but not before an estimated 1500 tenants lost their homes, according to research by the Fair Rent Coalition of East Palo Alto.

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