By Mary O’KEEFE
The owner of the Honolulu Manor Senior Apartments has been ordered to appear at his next court date on Sept. 25 in Glendale, the judge said during a pretrial hearing on Wednesday.
The City of Glendale had brought criminal charges against Honolulu Manor owner Elias Shokrian and Montrose LP in June after the city was contacted by residents who reported that both elevators in the complex had stopped working.
Problems began in October 2018 when the first of the two elevators stopped working. At the time residents shared their concerns that if the other elevator broke down several of them would be trapped in their apartments because they could not navigate the building’s stairs.
Then over Memorial Day the second, and only working, elevator broke down.
Honolulu Manor Senior Apartment residents are 65 years and older. Many of them walk with the help of walkers or canes and some are in wheelchairs. During a meeting of the residents, after the second elevator stopped working, many said they had missed doctor’s appointments and they could not leave their apartments to do normal errands like grocery shop.
At first residents were afraid to speak to the media for fear of retaliation from the owner through rent hikes or even eviction. But as time went on and nothing was being done to repair either elevator some of the residents reached out to the media for help. They have also filed a civil lawsuit regarding the ongoing struggle to get working, and safe, elevators.
Both elevators were down for about a week in May until one was finally repaired; however, that repair did not pass inspection by the city’s Building and Safety Dept.
“When our inspector went out again he rode the elevator from the lower level to the upper,” said former City of Glendale spokesman Dan Bell. “It was jerky and he did not sign off on it [as of June 5].”
As of this Wednesday the inspectors still had not signed off on the elevator.
Over the now months of waiting, residents have described the ride on the one working elevator as “shaky” and “frightening.” Some have even said they were afraid to get into the elevator. The elevator has broken down at least twice since the June repair, trapping residents. The elevator continues to be a concern, especially when stopping at apartment floors. One resident reported the elevator is not flush when it stops at a floor and this caused a woman to recently trip and fall as she was getting out of the elevator.
Residents have reported that on occasion they hear the other elevator being worked on and they hope for the best; however, Judge Beverly Bourne of Glendale Superior Court and Deputy City Attorney David Ligtenberg want to leave nothing up to chance.
“We have seen no evidence of [Montrose LP] coming into compliance,” Ligtenberg said in court on Wednesday.
The most recent communication to Ligtenberg was that Montrose LP was working on the non-functioning elevator and it planned to have it repaired by the end of August. At that point it would move to repair the now functioning elevator, Ligtenberg said.
The most recent Building and Safety Dept. inspection saw that no repairs had been made and no work seemed to be in progress.
With that information, the judge then ordered that Shokrian himself be in court on Sept. 25. Until Wednesday all previous court dates had been attended by Montrose LP and Shokrian’s lawyer.
If Shokrian is found guilty the maximum sentence that can be issued is six months in jail and a $500 fine. Judge Bourne told Shokrian’s attorney that there would have to be proof of some progress at the next court date or his client would be taken into custody.
Montrose LP and Shokrian’s attorney Thomas Sands said his client has people working on the repairs but it takes time. He added his client is not guilty of the charges.