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Tenants across the state have elected Donald 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. Tenants Together, California's only statewide organization for renters' rights, launched the Hall of shame in 2010 to shine a public spotlight on California's bad landlords and deter future landlord misconduct.
Throughout 2010, California tenants suggested nominees for induction into the Hall of Shame. Based on the information submitted and in-house research, Tenants Together announced its Official Nominees throughout the year. The Official Nominees included David Hovannisian (Fresno), Steve Pavlina (Sunnyvale), Frank St. Clair (Bakersfield), Donald Sterling (Los Angeles), David Taran (East Palo Alto), and Reza Valiyee (Berkeley). Ballots were sent out to Tenants Together members in December, 2010, polls were closed on January 7, 2011, and the inductees were announced yesterday January 19, 2011. Mr. Sterling and Mr. Taran distinguished themselves from within the list of candidates by the scale and egregiousness of their conduct.
Donald Sterling, LA Clippers owner and LA-area mega landlord, has paid millions to settle housing 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 1,500 tenants lost their homes, according to research by the Fair Rent Coalition of East Palo Alto.
According to Tenants Together Program Coordinator Gabe Treves, "For too long California tenants have suffered from their landlords' bad behavior with little recourse. As Sterling and Taran have learned, thanks to the Landlord Hall of Shame, bad behavior will no longer go unnoticed. California tenants have delivered a clear message to landlords: clean up your act or be publicly shamed."
Tenants Together manages the Landlord Hall of Shame to allow tenants throughout the state to shine a public spotlight on the bad actors that are harming their communities. All California tenants can suggest a landlord for consideration to the Hall of Shame by going to http://hallofshame.tenantstogether.org. Based on the information submitted and its own research, Tenants Together announces Official Nominees throughout the year. Annually, members of Tenants Together vote to determine which of the Official Nominees will be inducted into the Hall of Shame.