Settlement for Honolulu Manor Residents

File photo
Honolulu Manor resident George Heussenstamm is one of 19 residents that have won a lawsuit filed against the owner of the complex.


Some residents of the Honolulu Manor Senior Apartments in Montrose are very happy for a couple of reasons – they finally have two working elevators and they have won a civil suit brought against the owner of the complex.

The settlement of about $2.25 million came after a long battle to get both elevators in working order at the apartment complex in the 2500 block of Honolulu Avenue.

A resident contacted CVW in May 2019 when the second elevator had not been working for several days. The complex had two elevators; the first one broke down in October 2018 and, with the second elevator not functioning, the residents felt “trapped” in their own apartments.

The City of Glendale brought charges against the owner, Elias Shokrian, and his company, Montrose LP, in June 2019. During the many court appearances since then by Shokrian’s attorney, and a few by Shokrian himself, the first elevator still had not been repaired and although the second was working it needed maintenance.

A group of 19 residents banded together and, with the help of their lawyer Raymond Zakari, sued Shokrian’s company.

“It was awesome,” said George Heussenstamm, resident of the complex. “We each fell back in our seats” he said of the reaction when the residents learned they had won the civil case.

Zakari told each resident separately and each was happy not just because of the funds awarded but especially that the long fight, which involved a lot of fear of the future for those suing, was over.

“It was the principle,” Heussenstamm said.

Honolulu Manor is a senior apartment complex where most residents need help with mobility, whether through the use of a wheelchair or using a cane or walker. For many of these residents the elevator is a lifeline to the outside world.

Shortly after the second elevator broke, CVW attended a meeting at Honolulu Manor that included several of the residents. They spoke of their frustration and fear that the elevators were not working. One woman had been diagnosed with the type of macular degeneration that can be treated, but treatments must be regular and consistent. She had missed appointments because of the broken elevator. Another spoke of having Glendale firefighters carry her up the stairs to her unit. There were other stories of residents stressed about what to do in case of an emergency. Then, once the second elevator was up and running, they were concerned about it breaking down again. This created even more stress.

During the trial the owner continued to state he was attempting to repair the elevators but was having difficulty finding workers who knew the aging system and locating parts for the elevators. However, it had taken over a year for the first elevator that broke down to be repaired and, although the second elevator that broke down had been working on and off, it wasn’t until February 2020 that it had been repaired, inspected and cleared.

At one point during a court appearance, Shokrian told the judge he was not required to have both elevators operational. Ligtenberg responded that despite what the state requirements are Honolulu Manor is in the City of Glendale and therefore the owner must comply with the Glendale building code, which requires both elevators to be operational.

In addition to the financial settlement, Zakari made certain the residents were protected from unwarranted eviction and rent hikes. The agreement included a provision to protect the residents for four years from eviction with the added protections that extend beyond those provided by the City of Glendale. In addition rent cannot be raised for 12 months following the last time rent was raised.

For Zakari, this case was personal. He understood how fearful some of the residents were to speak up.

“These [residents] were brave and they stood up,” he said.

For Heussenstamm, it was all about what was right. All he wanted was for the residents – his neighbors – to have basic quality-of-life rights including being able to leave their apartment building.