Renewed outrage over Americana roof work

Residents say management gave little notice to clear out before asbestos dust falls

Residents of the Americana apartment complex say they have been asked to spend the Fourth of July weekend moving out of their apartments to prevent asbestos dust from raining on their belongings during roof work.

According to several calls and e-mails to the Voice from residents, Prometheus Real Estate Group wants to put new roofs on five of the Americana's 22 buildings this summer, spending three weeks per building. Built in the 1970s, the buildings have fire retardant "popcorn" coating on the ceilings made of asbestos, which is known to cause cancer when inhaled and which came loose during roof work in the complex in 2007.

Work begins on the first building on July 6, but temporary housing has only recently become available. As a result, some residents may have to spend the Fourth of July weekend moving.

The Americana apartment complex, located at 707 Continental Circle, is owned by the Palo Alto-based Tan Group and managed by the Prometheus Real Estate Group, which also hopes to build 214 apartments at the Minton's Lumber site on Evelyn Avenue.

An assistant manager at the Americana refused to speak with the Voice about the plan. Regional portfolio manager Jeff Buck did not return a phone call by press time.

Five Americana buildings underwent roof work in 2007, causing high concentrations of asbestos dust to fall in some top-floor apartments. Asbestos was found at four times the allowable limit in one case, according to Prometheus' own documents.

One family won a $7,500 small claims settlement against Prometheus after the company could not guarantee that the family's furniture and other belongings were free of asbestos. It was a "learning experience," manager Linda Rodriguez said at the time.

This time around, residents say Prometheus has proactively planned to test for asbestos dust, a measure that residents had to push for in 2007. And Prometheus has promised to cover belongings left behind in the apartments to protect them from asbestos dust. (Residents will likely leave many large belongings behind since the temporary housing is furnished.) And Prometheus has offered some residents the option of ending lease agreements so they can move out.

Despite these efforts, many residents are unhappy, saying that Americana management gave little notice about the need for them to move out.

"They are asking us to move our lives over" in one weekend, said one resident, who wished to remain anonymous. "But they've been planning this for months."

A notice was sent out to residents on June 18, but temporary housing, possibly in vacant apartments elsewhere on the site, won't be available until July 3. The first building is scheduled to begin work on July 6, leaving about 10 households in the first building only the July 4 weekend to move. At least some would have to cancel weekend plans, according to the complaints.

Residents said Prometheus has not made it clear whether there will be a thorough cleaning of any asbestos dust left behind after the roof work, which required special vacuum cleaners and wipes in 2007.

"All renters are fuming over the lack of advanced notice, the cost that will be incurred that we have to bear on our own for moving and timing that this is being handled in," wrote one resident in an e-mail.


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Posted by Americana's resident
a resident of North Whisman
on Jun 29, 2009 at 11:01 pm

As a tenant of America, in one of the buildings involved in the roof replacement, I'm still shocked. It's unbelievable how dishonest have being America with their tenants.
Just in my building, three families have just moved in (in less than one month)without any clue about this matter.
Until now, the Manager Linda Rodriguez and assistant manager Arnetta Griffin, keep saying to our faces that "they did not know". As we all learned on a meeting with maintenance supervisor for Prometheus Real Estate Group, last week that they all knew about this construction plan for several months.
We completely believe that they act in bad faith! They did not disclose any information regarding this service when we sigh the lease. Who would rent an apartment knowing that after two weeks of you lease you would be informed that you need to be relocated without access to you house for a month?
But in my opinion, the worst of everything is how careless is Americana regarding the pain and trouble we are going trough. They are not interested in helping us in anyway. Their only concern is protect themselves against another lawsuit.
The last thing that I could not forget to mention, and I believe it's agreed by most of the tenants, is how rude is the management!!!

Like this comment
Posted by Sean
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 29, 2009 at 11:06 pm

Shame on you Tan Group and Prometheus Real Estate Group.
I hope a lot of people see how you guys do "business"...

Like this comment
Posted by MvresidentZ
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 29, 2009 at 11:46 pm

Americana has been home to me for 3 years. How could our owner and management not think about our lives as they planned out the communication of this project months ago? I work from 8 in the morning to midnight. The few hours I spent at home are my only time of peace and quiet. This is being taken away from me by force at my own expense. Prometheus is certainly taking the least professional management approach towards these roof repairs. I do not object to the repairs since those are important. I object to their poor planning and rude behavior towards us.

Speak up Prometheus managers. What do you have to say about your project planning and dishonesty?

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Posted by Americana Affected Resident
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 30, 2009 at 3:08 pm

What Prometheus is asking us residents to do is the MOST ridiculous thing I have ever heard in my life.

I completely understand that this roofing project is necessary and required, and I am very much willing to move out of my apartment so work can begin on this project.

But I am not willing to take time off from work, pack everything myself, move into the temporary Guest Suite, unpack all my belongings, and then do the entire run-around again after three weeks.

If Prometheus wants cooperation from the Americana Residents, they must be willing to listen, understand our concerns and make life easier for us. This includes providing movers to help pack and move our belongings, providing equivalent utilities / amenities in the Guest Suites or reimbursing us for utilities, and waiving our rent for as long as we are in the Guest Suites.

That is the LEAST that they can do for all the inconvenience that we have to go through.

What is even more frustrating is that we have not heard anything from Prometheus since the meeting last Thursday. Building 6 third floor residents are not planning to move this weekend as they were "demanded" to do so. So as of now, no one knows how Prometheus will proceed.

Lastly I would like to echo what the residents already said above: there was no planning at all, Prometheus is being extremely rude to us residents, and did not inform residents who moved in 3 weeks ago that this project would start shortly.

Given the previous episodes with Prometheus and Americana that have been quoted in this article, it is clear that Prometheus strongly believes in fradulent and dishonest business practices.

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Posted by Kevin
a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2009 at 3:41 pm

I used to live at Americana and moved out a year after Promethius took over. They suck. Used to be a nice place to liuve until they took over. We had a fire in our building and after being escorted out by fire department we were not let back in for 3 weeks, due to Asbestos levels.

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Posted by Claudia
a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2009 at 10:32 pm

The Americana is an old trap! Don’t think of moving in there if you are looking for a safe and comfortable home. The management, both the corporate office and the local leasing office, are disrespectful of tenants rights, greedy, dishonest and impudent.
They told some friends of mine who just moved in there they did not know this HUGE maintenance work was about to happen. Can you believe it?
The elevators break down daily and cars are often broken into because there is no security. Two friends of mine who lived there a few years ago had their cars broken into.
I hope justice will prevail and tenants will be treated as human beings who have family and pay a lease to live there. Tenants should be compensated for this unfair and unacceptable situation.

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Posted by Sanjit
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2009 at 8:20 pm

So they cancelled the project till next year. Let's see what they have to say for next time.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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