Monarch Terrace residents get relief from eviction threats, following Claremont city council’s eviction moratorium

A group of people stand in front of the Claremont Council Chamber Building.
Monarch Terrace tenants, student organizers, and representatives from community organizations gather outside the Claremont City Council Chamber after the meeting. (Courtesy: Gwen Tucker)

The Claremont City Council voted Tuesday evening to adopt a temporary urgency ordinance banning “renovictions” — forced evictions for renovation purposes — for six months, beginning Jan. 1, 2023, when COVID-19 tenant protections expire in Los Angeles County. 

The vote comes after months of organizing by residents of Monarch Terrace apartments, who faced eviction this summer after Revere Investments bought the apartment complex.

José Ochoa, a resident of Monarch Terrace and a cook at Pitzer College, attended Tuesday’s meeting and described the approval of the ordinance as a powerful moment. 

“We have a really great community,” Ochoa said. “We are really thankful. It was a win.”

Last April, Revere Investments bought Monarch Terrace apartments with the intention of renovating the space and then raising the rent prices, according to the Claremont Courier.

After the purchase, dozens of residents, many of whom have lived at Monarch Terrace for years, were offered $7,000 dollars if they moved out in 30-60 days, according to the Courier. If they didn’t take the offer, they were told they would be evicted.

These eviction notices relied on a loophole in California’s tenant protection laws that allows for a landlord to evict a resident to “substantially remodel” a unit. Landlords can then raise rent on the remodeled units. 

Prompted by Monarch Terrace residents and community members organizing, Claremont City Council members voted at their Oct. 11 meeting to draft several possible ordinances that would provide stronger tenant protections. 

The urgency ordinance approved Tuesday establishes a moratorium that will last until July 1, 2023 on no-fault evictions where a landlord intends to substantially remodel a unit. 

“I don’t want to lose my house. This is the place we chose to stay.”

Jose Ochoa, Pizer Cook

Gwen Tucker SC ’25 is a lead student organizer for Inclusive Claremont, a 5C coalition that advocates for affordable housing. Tucker was at Tuesday’s meeting along with other members of Inclusive Claremont and members of the Claremont Student Worker Alliance. 

“The hope in passing the temporary moratorium is that tenants get an immediate kind of emotional reprieve from the constant stress and anxiety of dealing with the imminent loss of their homes,” Tucker said, “while the city can take more time to actually investigate what stronger and more targeted tenant protections can look like.” 

Under California tenant protection law, if a local agency — like the city of Claremont — adopts an ordinance that is “more protective” of tenant rights, then that ordinance supersedes state law for eligible real estate, according to the draft version of the ordinance submitted before Tuesday’s meeting. 

Ochoa has been working with his neighbors to fight the evictions since September. They attended the Oct. 11 City Council meeting to advocate for stronger tenant protection legislation to prevent them from losing their homes. 

“I don’t want to lose my house,” Ochoa said. “This is the place we chose to stay.”

Ochoa said he is the only Pitzer worker he knows who lives in Claremont, which has a median home sales price of $962,500

“Buying a house is very far from reality for me right now,” he said. 

Before Tuesday’s meeting, David Jankowski PO ’87, a principal at Revere Investments, submitted a written public comment to the City Council saying that the company no longer planned to evict residents. 

“Revere is satisfied with the property’s current status. We have no plans to give notices to vacate due to substantial renovation,” Jankowski wrote. “The costs for the apartments that we renovated were much higher than expected. Our available funds for further renovations are low, and we are in no hurry to do more.” 

Ochoa said that Revere’s statement upset him and his neighbors. 

“They were trying to evict everyone. We stopped them from doing so, and now they’re trying to look nice,” Ochoa said, “I don’t want to lose my home because [they] want to be rich.” 

Despite Revere saying that it would no longer be pursuing evictions, the City Council voted to approve the moratorium, citing a broader lack of affordable housing in Claremont.

“[T]he City of Claremont is experiencing a housing affordability crisis and a humanitarian crisis of homelessness that would be exacerbated by the displacement of renters,” the draft of the ordinance said.  

Tucker said that passing the ordinance shows the power of renters and residents organizing.

“There’s an atmosphere [in Claremont] of renters not feeling like they’re being reached out to and that they have the resources to politically engage,” Tucker said. “And so I think that that first step of saying, ‘Oh, we actually have power, and we actually have the ability to show up and influence the votes of these people who are responsible for running our city,’ is really impactful.” 

Although Ochoa described the ordinance as a win, he said that he and his neighbors still have work to do. 

“We have to keep pushing,” he said. “All of a sudden, we’re involved in politics.”

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