Apartment owner loaned $500,000 by city of Stanton settles state discrimination suit for $614,000

scrooge.jpgOwners of the Plaza Court Apartments in Stanton agreed to dish out $618,000 to settle a fair housing lawsuit with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), it was announced today.

After investigating numerous complaints that management at the 120-unit complex was discriminating against tenants with children and families, the Fair Housing Council of Orange County filed a formal complaint with the DFEH against Plaza Court Apartments.

The state agency conducted its own probe before filing a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court on behalf of nine families against owners Patria Court Ltd. and Plaza Patria Court LP that alleged unfair business practices, fraud, breach of contract, negligence and discrimination.

The suit charged that Plaza Patria Apartments' “House Rules and Regulations” were overly restrictive.

“The DFEH alleged that the rules, which included prohibiting children from being in the pool after 6 p.m. and playing outside alone – ever – unlawfully restricted the manner in which children could use the common areas of the apartment complex,” according to a press statement that accompanied DFEH's announcement.

Tenants were told they would be fined or evicted if their children were caught playing outside their apartments, the DFEH suit alleged.

By settling the suit, Plaza Court's owners do not admit liability. But exactly who those owners are is lost amid a convoluted sea of state and local business records. A fictitious business record statement filed in March 1994 gives a MacArthur Boulevard address in Newport Beach for Plaza Patria Apartments and lists Ali Razi, David K. Lamb, John Minar and Mehrdad Rassekh as contacts.

The California Secretary of State's most current listing of limited partnerships/limited liability companies gives a Wilshire Boulevard address in Beverly Hills for Plaza Patria Court Ltd. That was filed February 26, 1996, the same date of a separate Secretary of State filing that identifies the corporate officers as “Foundation for Affordable Housing III, a Nonprofit Delaware Corporation Partner.”

County records show Plaza Patria Court Ltd. bought the apartment complex for $3.8 million in March 1996.

Eight months later, the Stanton City Council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency, approved a $500,000 loan to Plaza Patria Court Inc. as part of a $2.5 million redevelopment project. The City Council, again acting as the Redevelopment Agency, on June 26, 2007, approved amending the original agreement with Plaza Patria Court Ltd. to extend the loan.

Details of the new loan terms, or whether the city of Stanton will just start cutting checks directly to the state to retire the $618,000 settlement, could not be confirmed because City Hall is closed on Fridays.

Besides the fine, Plaza Court's owners must “revise the complex's rules to ensure they conform with fair housing laws, development a written policy prohibiting familial status discrimination, inform all tenants of the new rules and ensure each staff member has detailed information on whom to report suspected discrimination,” according to the DFEH statement. The owners also must perform fair housing training sessions annually for the next five years.

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