Seabreeze Tenants Union/ Union de Vecinos de Seabreeze and LACCLA Block Evictions in Oxnard
The Sea Breeze development at 3530–3660 Samuel Ave in Oxnard is an affordable housing complex owned by Sea Breeze Venture LP, a subsidiary of MRK Partners, Inc., and operated by the nation-wide property management firm Apartment Management Consultants LLC. The complex contains 92 one- and two-bedroom units.
In June of 2016, Sea Breeze/MRK accepted 17.5 million dollars in affordable housing tax credits from the State of California to develop affordable housing for the existing tenants of Sea Breeze. Instead, Sea Breeze has attempted to evict the existing tenants with a series of no-fault eviction notices issued over the past fourteen months. In response, the tenants have unionized, forming Union de Vecinos de Seabreeze, and have collectively filed a lawsuit against the developer-landlord, to stop them from filing any more eviction lawsuits and instead force them to provide the tenants with affordable housing.
To date, the Union de Vecinos de Seabreeze has won every eviction case that Sea Breeze/MRK has filed against them. On January 19, 2018, the Union presented Judge Bryant-Deason with evidence that the developer-landlord had accepted the State funds for affordable housing and instead of providing their existing tenants with affordable housing, attempted to evict them. Upon receiving the funds, Sea Breeze/MRK indicated to the City of Oxnard that their current tenants would largely fall into the required lower income bracket, and that they would set up a relocation program that would provide nearby housing for any tenants earning higher incomes, at their current rent or less. When property manager Janet Pintor issued notices for tenants to certify their incomes, neither she nor anyone from Sea Breeze/MRK responded to any of the tenants’ questions regarding the income re-certification process. As the developer-landlord moved forward with the no-fault eviction notices, they gave some tenants applications for affordable housing, but then refused to consider the applications. These acts of negligent misrepresentation indicate that Sea Breeze/MRK never intended to provide their current tenants with affordable housing. The judge ruled these actions to be fraudulent, and has blocked the developer-landlord from pursuing any further no-fault evictions until the lawsuit is resolved.
At the end of 2017, the developer-landlord agreed to provide all tenants who are members of the Union de Vecinos de Seabreeze with affordable housing. While this in itself is a well-deserved triumph, the Seabreeze tenants should be commended for their collective bargaining, and their sheer willingness to self-organize and build a movement from the ground up.