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Greenbriar Residents Scrambling to Find New Housing

The owner of Greenbriar Apartments, now known as Addison Ranch, on Maria Drive is planning a major revamp of the 224-unit complex. And that has residents wondering just where they will go.

 

Boxes are stacked along the walls in Beatriz Ortiz’s apartment, filled with clothes, toys and other household items.

The family, which includes the 30-year-old Beatriz, her husband and three sons, is ready to move.

But there’s only one problem: They have nowhere to go.

The Ortizes are one of more than 200 families at the Greenbriar Apartments, located on Maria Drive and Park Lane, who have been forced to relocate as the complex prepares for a major renovation after being bought by a new owner this January.

History of Neglect

The apartments, now known as Addison Ranch, have a long history of neglect, including broken doors and windows, rodents and backed up sewage, first exposed by Petaluma Patch last year.

But the planned cleanup has angered and frustrated many residents, who say they don’t understand why the improvements can’t be done in sections (since many units are already empty). And, they say, they won’t be able to find comparable prices anywhere in town.

“I’ve been looking for a house for two months and can’t find anything,” says Ortiz, who begins and ends each day sifting through listings on Craigslist. “Every place wants you to make at least three times the rent, but when we try to pull together with another family, they say we are too many people.”

She has applied to four houses and has been rejected by each one.

For years Greenbriar residents lived with ripped carpets, holes in their walls and windows that didn’t properly shut. That’s because the property was run by Bijan Madjlessi, a Marin County real estate developer who many say neglected the apartments, which be broke up into dozens of separate companies and used to take out $24 million in loans.

He is currently being investigated for fraud and has been blamed for the collapse of Sonoma Valley Bank, which lent him the money.

New Look Means Higher Prices

The new owner, First Pointe Management, based in Carlsbad, Calif., has big plans for the complex, including equipping each unit with a new kitchen with stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, an air conditioner and a washer and dryer.

But that means that prices will now increase by about $300, to $1550 for a 2-bedroom apartment, making them out of reach for many families now living here.

“So many people are competing for an apartment, meanwhile there are many units here that are already vacant,” said Oliva Carreno, another resident. “I don’t understand why they can’t remodel one section at a time and let people stay in the vacant ones?”

Darla Black, a property manager at the complex, said the renovations will begin this month and continue over the next year and a half. Families will be able to return three months after moving out, if they can pass a credit and reference check, which she admits will be much more stringent than in the past. An additional 84 units—mostly two and three bedrooms— will also be built.

But for now, residents have no choice but to find a new place to live in a tight rental market made even more competitive by people who lost their homes in the foreclosure crisis.

“It’s great that the new owners want to clean up, but where does that leave us?” says Carreno, who shares her apartment with her husband and two daughters.

While Carreno has been able to negotiate with the manager to let her stay a bit longer, Ortiz has just ten days before she has to move out. Her husband has already started moving some boxes into a storage unit…just in case the family has to stay with friends until they find a new place to call home.

*Both Ortiz and Carreno declined to be photographed.

Are you concerned about the lack of affordable housing in Petaluma? Have you been impacted?

boethius October 19, 2012 at 03:26 PM
So the residents would rather live in a rat-infested dump than have the place renovated and the numerous issues resolved? Chances are the extent of the work that needs to be done requires more or less a gutting of the entire complex and I'm sure the current owners went into the purchase knowing this. Clearly the previous owning was a slumlord leeching whatever value and money he could off the property. Meanwhile, the residents suffered. Now that they have an opportunity for it to be clean, renovated, and in proper working order they don't want to pay for it. As far as the pricing; well $1550 is rather cheap for a 2BR apartment in this area, especially after it's renovated. If it's "out of reach" the residents can move further north to low-income housing in Santa Rosa or get on a waiting list for low-income housing in Marin. The owners are obliged to make a profit and build value in the trashed property they're no doubt going to be putting millions into to fix.
Veronika Noble October 19, 2012 at 11:08 PM
I didn't read that any resident would prefer to live in those circumstances nor did I read that any resident doesn't want to pay for a better living unit....I read the residents are NOT able to pay an increase and I read the new owner and managment team is not interested no willing to assist these residents during this time of transistion (hence the get out now position) and I've read the new owners will require much more from potential residents in order to enter a rental agreement, which is akin to saying 'if you can't get accepted elsewhere chances are we will reject you too', I am sad about this situation, I am embarrassed that a Carlsbad based co. Is responsible for this action, and thereby responsible for rendering many families homeless. I think its disgusting that the new owner is not willing to assist and allow the former residents who have had problem free residency to remain and/or to return living there despite background credit checks etc. This is not how you care for people in the community you hope to thrive in. These are obviosly people who were unable to get better, pay for more etc. these are the kind of men and woman, moms and dad, boys and girls who need the community support and assistance more than ever. And to end, I don't find either of the above comments supportive or helpful. Many of us are one paycheck away if you are not be grateful but do not condmen
Patrick M. October 20, 2012 at 01:32 AM
It is not the owner's responsibility to "assist" (give money) to any of these people. It is the owner's responsibility to provide clean, safe, and well maintained units and it sounds like they are in the process of doing that. The location of the company has no bearing on this whatsoever. It would be just as accurate to say that you are embarassed a Petaluma person has not stepped up to renovate this complex for free and cut the rent at the same time. If you spend any time in this area you know this complex has been run down for a very long time. I am quite happy to see an owner willing to renovate the complex for the sake of everyone living in the area.
Veronika Noble October 20, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Patrick I have spent 40 years in that area, I have family and many friends living there. Many of those years I spent working as a driver as a result I know P town very well. I think its interesting, yet hypocritical that you are "quite happy to see an owner willing to renovate the complex for the sake of everyone living in the area", everyone except the residents, the families, the children who are being displaced thru no fault of their own. Your statement is as selfish as the first 2 posts. Clearly you value the residents "in the area" yet not the residents themselves. Btw do you know how many Meagen List offenders are registered as living in that area?
Patrick M. October 20, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Veronika-I can empathize with the displaced residents I just do not think they are owed anything. Nothing unclear about 'for the sake of everyone...'; that extends to the people who will live there as well.
Betty Harrison October 21, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Veronika, thank you for your support of the Greenbriar residents. They deserve better. My job as a tutor took me to the Greenbriar apartments for the past two years. Although the apartments were worn, they were clean and well kept by the residents, who had obvious pride in their homes, no matter how modest. It is the communities' responsibility to provide low-income housing. I suppose it is our own city council that has allowed the new owners to evict so many residents... shame on them; shame on all of us.
Jeannie October 21, 2012 at 11:41 PM
I work in property management and as a voice for an acting owner... this happens all over! Greenbriar is RUN DOWN and has a lot of gang problems! Rehabs on the interior and exterior will help the NEW Addison Ranch! There is additional housing just look into a HUD or Tax Credit property! The will work with you. Unfortunately, a 2 bedroom Apartment holds a Maximum Occupancy of 5 occupants..., so people are at risk of Eviction if they have more than allowed. The new owners to buildings are a blessing and you cant make everyone happy!
Darris October 22, 2012 at 09:33 AM
$1550 for a 2 bedroom apartment! Greenbrier was my first apartment nearly 40 years ago so I have some recollection of what they look like. I don't care how much they doll up those apartments, you can find better for $1,550.00.

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