Legal battle brewing at strip mall
Tenants fear eviction from new owner after receiving perplexing 30-day notice
A number of Mountain View businesses in a strip mall near the Sunnyvale border may soon enter into litigation with the shopping center's new landlord. According to some shop owners and employees working in the complex, every business there was issued a 30-day notice to vacate.
However, the landlord said that the note he delivered to his tenants was merely meant to inform them of a change in ownership; none of the businesses would provide a copy of the alleged eviction document before the Voice's press time.
The landlord, Cyrus Parvini, said that he recently purchased a portion of the strip mall and hopes to expand his Little Prodigy Preschool & Daycare Center, which currently occupies a building on the eastern end of the center, located at 830 E. El Camino Real, across the street from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation campus.
Parvini told the Voice that he bought a portion of the strip mall, which had previously been owned by the Pacific National Bank, in the hopes of growing his preschool.
Noah Downing, an assistant planner with the City of Mountain View, said Parvini has yet to fill out the requisite forms for approval to expand, but through conversations the landlord has had with the planning department, Downing said it was clear that Parvini hoped to expand his preschool into the vacant former bank building on the property.
To Downing's knowledge, Parvini does not plan to use any of the other spaces in the center. Still, according to Michelle Piao, the owner of a The Office Bar, all the businesses in the strip mall, including her watering hole, along with a liquor store, a dry cleaner, a salon and a massage parlor received a 30-day notice.
The problem is that The Office Bar and other tenants in the complex currently have leases that extend years into the future, according to Piao and one of her bartenders.
"All my customers were shocked," Piao said, adding that she is joining together with other the other business owners and an attorney to fight back. "We know this is wrong. We have a lease. You can't treat people like this."
The other business owners in the shopping center were careful about what they said regarding the notice. Many said they weren't sure about the exact language of the document, but most of them confirmed they had received some kind of "30-day notice."
Parvini said that it is all a misunderstanding.
"Nobody is going to kick anybody out right now," he said.
According to him, the notice he issued to his tenants simply explained that he was the new owner and that their leases would now be managed by him.
Any tenant with a lease in the complex cannot be evicted until their lease expires, according to Joseph Dozier, a Los Altos real estate lawyer.
"You can't cancel or ignore existing leases when you buy property," Dozier said, unless there was a clause in the lease that stipulated that could happen in the event of a change of ownership. "I've never seen language like that, but it's possible."