LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Calif. - City officials in Diamond Bar yellow or red-tagged 150 condominium units at a Diamond Bar condominium complex after an inspection showed high-danger risks.
The City issued the warning on September 30 and residents must vacate the building by October 18 when the City plans to begin enforcement of the order. The order took residents by surprise who said they were unaware of the severity of the structural damage.
"We need to find out why this HOA was corrupt, why was she [HOA manager] stealing people's money and getting the HOA fee and when they asked for the repairs, she said there was no money," said Hanaa Zlali, a mother of two who is now going to be displaced along with her husband.
According to city officials, the problems started in 2017 when the HOA hired an engineering firm to evaluate the property. The firm found a termite infestation, dry rot, water intrusion and roof wear and tear. The City asked the HOA to address the issues, but since then, many of the issues persist, and now residents are forced to vacate.
"What they're doing is unfair. There's no way we can move out in two weeks. It's impossible to find a place at the right price. It's ridiculous. We pay association fees for repairs and they haven't done anything. We complain to the HOA about all the maintenance, and they don't answer the phone. They don't call us back. They just ignore us," said Emerson Morales, one of the condo owners.
Kimberly Ludolph lives at the complex with her fiancé and is stressed about needing to find a new home under short notice.
"I've never dealt with anything like this before. This is kind of unheard of. It's very surreal at this point. It doesn't seem like we're really getting any support from our HOA and we're also not getting any support from the city as far as providing any resources," she said.
Ludolph, among others, has no idea where she will live.
"I don't have anywhere to go yet but I'm packing everything up in boxes because they said we would be facing misdemeanor charges if we are in the building," she said.
She said the housing market is competitive and it's difficult to find housing.
"I've never dealt with this level of competitiveness when it comes to housing. Having to come up with that kind of money and completely shift gears, I barely know what I'm doing and I can barely complete a sentence sometimes. It's really difficult right now so like I said, we're all trying to bond together and share each other's resources," she said.
Ludolph said they are in need of translators to come to the complex too because a lot of the residents don't speak English and all of the notices have been in English only.
"We can't even focus on the legality of it and we're just being told you're in danger so you have no other choice. We understand that they're trying to keep us safe in some way but if that is the case then there should be resources provided for us. If this has been going on several years then they should have prepared," said Ludolph.
The City of Diamond Bar issued the following statement:
"In 2017, prompted by complaints from tenants, the HOA hired an engineering firm to evaluate the property. The report at that time identified structural damage due to termite infestation, dry rot, water intrusion, and roof wear and tear. The City received a copy of the 2017 report, and asked the property management company and Homeowners Association of The Village at Diamond Bar to take steps to address these issues. Since then, the HOA has performed some work to address the issues. However, many still remained unaddressed."
In September of this year, the Association again hired the same engineering firm to reinspect the structures. This time, the engineering report recommended vacating all units due to immediate hazards to the occupants.
Structural hazards in all buildings on the property, including deteriorated or inadequate foundations, defective or deteriorated flooring and/or floor supports, members of vertical supports that split, lean, list or buckle due to defective materials or deterioration, and members of ceilings, roofs, ceiling and roof supports, or other horizontal members that sag, split, or buckle due to defective materials or deterioration.
• Faulty weather protection in all buildings on the property including deteriorated, crumbling or loose plaster, deteriorated or ineffective waterproofing of exterior walls, roof, foundation, and/or floors, and broken, rotted, split, or buckled exterior wall or roof coverings.
Faulty materials in all buildings on the Property caused by failure to maintain construction materials in good and safe condition.
Inadequate sanitation in all buildings on the Property including infestation of insects (termites), visible mold growth, and general dilapidation or improper maintenance.
Structures that are unsafe, insanitary, or deficient because of inadequate maintenance or dangerous to human life.
There is known asbestos and mold present on the site which further adds to the level of complexity and presents additional health concerns as the testing and repair work is performed.
Yellow and Red-Tagging of the Property
On September 30, 2021, the City yellow- or red-tagged all 150 units condominium. The City will begin enforcement of the orders on these tags on Monday, October 18.
The tag colors rate occupancy risk, with yellow indicating medium risk and red indicating high risk. Regardless of tag color, the condominiums must be vacated in order to keep residents out of harm’s way, and for the engineers and inspectors to safely assess and test all areas of concern, and determine what repairs are necessary.
- Red-tagged units – All of the second-floor units are red-tagged. Once vacated, residents may not re-enter red-tagged units until the City deems the units to be safe.
- Yellow-tagged units – All of the first-floor units are yellow-tagged. Residents may only re-enter yellow-tagged to retrieve personal belongings.
The HOA is responsible for preparing plans, obtaining required permits, and performing all of the work necessary to make the structures safe for occupancy. When the Building Official determines that the structures are habitable, the red and yellow tags will be removed.
Temporary Relocation Guidance for Renters and Owner Occupants
- Renters should get in touch with their landlords if they have not already reached out. Under California Health and Safety Code Sections 17975-17975.10, they are entitled to rent benefits from the owner. These benefits include two months of fair market rent for the area, and an amount to cover utility service deposits.
- Residents who own and live in their condominium are encouraged to their homeowner’s insurance policy or contact their insurance company to find out if their coverage includes assistance to cover the costs of temporary living.
The HOA manager, Yvette Allen, did respond to a call from FOX 11 Tuesday and said the HOA is working with the City, insurance companies, lenders and engineers to address safety concerns, and said she would be in touch with FOX 11 over the course of the next few days with additional information.
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