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Santa Rosa Residents Who Escaped Wildfires Receive Eviction Notices

SANTA ROSA (KPIX 5) -- People who thought they dodged the North Bay wildfires because their apartment complex largely survived with minimal damage have learned four days before Christmas they are now being evicted.

At least 40 residents of the Hopper Lane Apartments in Santa Rosa received eviction notices just last night. Part of the complex was damaged in the Tubbs Fire, including several apartment units.

But residents say most of the building is alright and they accuse the landlord of booting them to raise rents, as other post-fire rents in the area are skyrocketing.

Around 8 o'clock last night, resident David Loewen found an eviction notice taped to his front door.

"Just got a notice, called and got an answering machine," said Loewen. "We thought we were fortunate escaping the fire but it's just delayed reaction to eventual eviction."

"Why do you think they're doing this?" we asked.

"Money. Pure greed," he said.

The Sonoma County District Attorney didn't know about the evictions until we brought it to their attention.

It's currently investigating 140 cases of price gouging since the fires. In most cases, landlords are kicking people out to raise the rent.

"We believe it's against the law to give someone a notice to vacate if your intention, your purpose in doing that is to hike the rent up," said Ronit Rubinoff, Executive Director of Legal Aid of Sonoma County.

Rubinoff is working with people like Loewen to fight no-cause evictions.

"Overall, we've seen a 20 percent increase in eviction notices that have come in the door just since the fire."

Rubinoff pointed out Santa Rosa already had a housing crisis before the fire. She says she's not surprised to see landlords taking advantage of this situation.

"We want to make sure it's not happening. The only way we can help is if people step forward," she said.

We reached out to the lawyers who served the eviction notices. They told us they had no comment.

We also reached out to property managers here at Hopper Lane and did not receive a response.

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