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Page Mill Properties target of lawsuit

Publication Date: 
July 27, 2008
Palo Alto Daily News
Banks Albach

The Stanford Community Law Clinic, part of the Mills Legal Clinic, is mentioned in this story about East Palo Alto Tenants who are fighting rent increases. SLS alumnae Jessica Steinberg is quoted:

After filing three lawsuits against the city of East Palo Alto this month, Page Mill Properties is facing its own legal challenges on two fronts - from the city and a group of tenants.

The residents, Eric Oberle, Shery Scott, Matthew Fremont and Nathan Ben Yonatan, all received rent increases of between 14 and 38 percent from Page Mill and have filed a class action suit against the landlord, alleging that Page Mill's rent hikes are illegal, meant to cause harm and an unfair business practice.

The complaint, filed on July 15, also alleges that Page Mill is using a "sham" ownership scheme to subvert East Palo Alto's rent control law, which exempts buildings with four or less units. Page Mill has transferred all such units into 17 limited liability companies in order to dodge the ordinance, the complaint alleges.


The legal counterattack coincides with the first inklings of an organized grassroots opposition to the rent hikes. With the help of the Stanford Law Clinic, a group of tenants ran a petition drive Saturday to protest the rent increases, which have affected about 1,300 of Page Mill's roughly 1,650 units. Oberle, who helped organize the drive, said about 100 tenants signed on.


The group will hold a second drive this Saturday at 1974 Euclid Ave.

Jessica Steinberg, an attorney from the clinic, said she plans to present the petitions to the East Palo Alto Rent Stabilization Board as soon as possible and call for a hearing with an outside examiner. A favorable decision could help the tenants and the city later in court, Steinberg said.