The out-of-town owner of Summerset Village Apartments in Fresno, where approximately 1,000 residents went without hot water or heat for several weeks last fall, filed an appeal of the $290,000 in fines that he owes the city.
Marin County resident Chris Henry, a Kern County oil company owner and restaurateur in the Bay Area and Santa Barbara, owes the city for time spent inspecting and citing 1,450 code violations at the 220-unit complex.
Summerset Village Apartments in Fresno is where 1,000 residents went without hot water or heat for several weeks last year.
Administrative hearing officer Michael Flores said the city received Henry’s notice of appeal on Dec. 16 for money that was due Jan. 6. A hearing date was set for soon after that, Flores said, but then the city and Henry requested to hold off. He said both sides were working toward a settlement.
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City spokesman Mark Standriff said Fresno officials no longer are considering a settlement. He said the city was waiting for repairs to be completed before moving forward with the appeal.
“There may have been discussions at one time,” he said. “We’ll wait for the hearing officer. That will be the final decision.”
Flores said he was asked a couple weeks ago to reschedule the hearing. It is now set for 9:30 a.m. on May 24. Flores blocked off the entire day for the hearing because the city has to prove each violation individually.
More than $1 million has been spent on renovations, says the property manager, which should be completed in about two weeks.
Calls to Henry and his attorney, Kere Tickner of Orange County, were not returned Tuesday.
Henry hired Regency Property Management to oversee extensive repairs at Summerset. Regency president Brad Hardie said Henry has spent more than $1 million on the renovations, which should be completed in about two weeks.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. shut off natural gas service on Nov. 12 at the central Fresno complex because of unsafe conditions. The crisis spurred Mayor Ashley Swearengin to declare a state of emergency while crews worked to restore services to the low-income residents, many of whom are Southeast Asian refugees.
About 150 current and former tenants later filed a lawsuit demanding Henry pay them $3 million. The lawsuit was amended in March to include a wrongful death claim on behalf of the family of Her Xa Lor, 78, who died Jan. 2 of respiratory failure and pneumonia. His widow blames the cold in their apartment for contributing to her husband’s death.
Few property owners in Fresno fined for housing violations appeal. Landlords also can appeal the administrative hearing officer’s decision to the Fresno County Superior Court.