920 Everett Street – Stop the Lies, Harassment, and Threats of Violence
920 Everett Street – Stop the Lies, Harassment, and Threats of Violence
The tenants at 920 Everett Street have not paid rents since April 2020, were previously paying rents significantly below market for many years, harassed and threatened the two prior owners into not raising their rents and ultimately into selling the property, lied about their current situation at the property to the media and others, and now have illegally harassed and threatened the current owner with violence and harm.
920 Everett Street is a five-unit multifamily property built in 2000 and located in the rapidly gentrifying Chinatown area of Los Angeles, California. Since it was built in 2000, the property previously was not under rent control. The Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (Protection Act) extended a rent “cap” (on rent increases but not initial base rents) and eviction controls to anywhere in the state where rent control didn't already exist. The law took effect on January 1, 2020. Civil Code Section 1946.2 implements "just cause" limitations. They prohibit termination without just cause of a tenant who has lived in the unit for at least 12 months. These just causes include both tenant at-fault behavior (such as repeated late rent) and no-fault reasons (like owner move-ins). Civil Code Section 1947.12 adds rent control to the mix, and prohibits increasing the annual rent more than the cost of living for that locality plus five percent, up to a maximum increase of ten percent of the prior rent.
VF Developments (the current owner of 920 Everett Street) acquires smaller multifamily buildings located in gentrifying communities around Downtown Los Angeles. VF Developments corrects the deferred maintenance at the properties they acquire that has plagued many properties in Los Angeles. This deferred maintenance is the result of owners who have been unwilling or unable to make capital improvements. After making the capital improvements and substantially improving the properties, VF Developments rents out the renovated apartment homes for a higher rental rate but significantly below the newer constructed properties offering renters the substantial value of architecturally stunning, like new housing but at an affordable price. Contrary to what other articles and petitions have stated, VF Developments has not "flipped" any property for a profit and has stated their desire to hold the property long term.
The current owner, Victoria Vu at VF Developments, is a young, successful female and minority entrepreneur. Prior to founding her real estate company, she was a leader in the Halloween and dance festival costume design industry. She has been nominated for awards for her exemplary professionalism, leadership role in the community and business, and serving as a mentor or a source of inspiration for other professional women. Despite her success, her upbringing and journey to the US was challenging. She is the daughter to a refugee and immigrant family from Vietnam. Her family was forced to flee the war torn and violent country of Vietnam. Her family was forced to resettle as a result of the war and chaos in Southeast Asia during the 1970’s. They have made the US their home and, now, Victoria Vu and her family are being threatened, harassed, and bullied in the country that helped “resettle” them by the same people who fled these areas as well.
The tenants have not paid rent since mid April 2020 – living rent free for more than six months. Given the eviction moratorium continues until early next year, the tenants will have lived at the property for nearly one year without paying rent. Prior to mid April 2020, the tenants were paying rent significantly below market. The tenants were paying monthly rents ranging from $1,150 to $1,250 for an 800 square feet, two-bedroom, two bath unit. The average rent of $1,180 was significantly below the current market monthly rent of $2,600 to $3,300 for two-bedroom units at similar properties in the area – costing the prior owners hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost rent over the years and the current owner tens of thousands of dollars of lost rent as well. The owner has now had to pay for the monthly mortgage payments and operating expenses while the tenants live for free and harass and torment the owner.
The tenants and their supporters have loudly proclaimed that "Chinatown is not for sale!" as their rallying cause. Although Chinatown may not be for sale, the apartment property and land located at 920 Everett Street was actively listed for sale and actually sold several times in the past few years (and to no less than Asian owners and immigrants to the US who were forced to leave their country due to wars). The sale advertisements listed quotes such as "Strong Immediate Upside in Market Rents", "Rare Non-Rent Controlled Offering", and "over 40% of upside in the rents that can be capitalized within a short period after ownership". One can simply Google "920 Everett Street" and see dozens of sale listings for 920 Everett Street.
The tenants at 920 Everett Street have also told the media and others that they are being evicted during the Covid 19 pandemic. Pursuant to the City of Los Angeles Eviction Moratorium, the now expired California Judicial Council Emergency Rules, and now AB-3088, "The COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020", the owner of 920 Everett Street is currently not legally able to process Unlawful Detainer (eviction) actions through the court. At all times the owner of 920 Everett Street has complied with the relevant ordinances, laws, and statutes. There have been no evictions occurring at 920 Everett Street during this pandemic and to date as well. In addition, 920 Everett Street tenants’ own Facebook page has posted a letter from the owner's attorney stating such position.
The tenants at 920 Everett Street have harassed, bullied, and threatened the prior two owners into not raising their rents to market levels forcing them to ultimately sell the property. This harassment has included threatening emails and phone calls, protests at their offices and homes, and unwarranted and incorrect media attention and articles. Succumbing to these threats and harassment and fearing for their safety from the 920 Everett Street tenants and their supporters, both owners sold the property to another owner. The tenants had so terrified the prior owner that they sold the property in January 2020 for a loss, after including closing costs, after owning for just four months.
The tenants at 920 Everett Street and their supporters have now harassed, bullied, and threatened with harm and violence Victoria Vu. This harassment and threats have also been directed at the other employees, vendors, investors and even family members of VF Developments. The tenants have flaunted this law violation by brazenly posting the letter from an attorney demanding they stop these illegal and potentially harmful actions - all the while they continue to and encourage others to harass and torment Victoria Vu and other employees and investors.
One can simply review the 920 Everett Street tenants’ own Facebook page and the Chinatown Community for Equitable Development’s (CCED) Facebook page as well as several Change.org petitions - to see the comments in the posts and reader comments regarding threats of violence and harm. This has included derogatory and demeaning comments about her personal physical appearance. This has also included homophobic and transphobic hate comments, texts, and calls to VF Development’s principals and employees.
In addition to the posts and comments on 920 Everett Street tenants’ and CCED’s social media, Victoria Vu has also suffered from a harmful, dangerous, and illegal “calling campaign” or "doxing" motivated by posting her personal email, home address, and phone number publicly on the internet. Doxing, or doxxing, is the Internet-based practice of researching and publicly broadcasting private or identifying information (especially personally identifying information) about an individual or organization.
Penal Code 653.2 PC is California’s law against posting harmful material on the internet. It is sometimes referred to as “indirect electronic harassment” or “indirect cyber-harassment.” This is because the comments invite or encourage someone other than the person making them to harass or threaten the subject. Under PC 653.2, “harassment” consists of knowing and willful conduct that: 1) is directed at a specific person, 2) serves no legitimate purpose, and 3) would be alarming, annoying, tormenting, or terrorizing to a reasonable person. Penal Code 653m is California’s law against annoying phone calls, texts and emails. A person violates 653m PC when they: 1) make a telephone call or send a text message or email that is obscene or threatening, or 2) make a series of repeated communications of any nature with the intent to harass or annoy the person to whom they are directed. Consequences of violating California Penal Code 653m can include up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
Again, a review of the 920 Everett Street social media pages affiliated with the tenants and their supporters as well as the harassing and threatening social media posts, phone calls, text messages, and emails to Victoria Vu clearly shows that the tenants and their supporters have knowingly, willingly, and brazenly broken the above laws with the intent to cause harm - despite being warned in writing by an attorney to stop such illegal and harmful actions (the letter was actually posted to the tenant's Facebook page). This evidence has all been saved and documented.
Please join the property owners and other supporters throughout the Chinatown and Los Angeles areas who have pledged their support and sign this petition!