Tenants of a building in Pomona are angry and seeking answers after being without power for more than two weeks following powerful windstorms last month.
Approximately 16 units at Terremonte Apartmentslocated at 3420 Falcon St., were without power from January 21 until Tuesday, February 8. During this period, residents say calls to property management asking for immediate help, such as a generator or hotel vouchers, were ignored or not answered. .
The outage was the result of high winds damaging a generator, which caused a small fire near the building, city spokesman Mark Gluba said Tuesday. In order for power to be restored, a city inspection had to be completed before SoCal Edison could get involved.
A contractor hired by the owner completed the repairs on Friday, February 4, but failed to reach the city at that time for an inspection. On Monday, February 7, an inspector visited the apartment for a follow-up and power was restored the next day, 18 days after the initial power cut.
Several requests for comment from the property management company on the causes of the delay were not returned Friday morning.
the January the 21st The Santa Ana storm wreaked havoc across the region, including the foothill towns of Upland, Claremont, Pomona and La Verne. All have since declared a state of emergency following costly damage to homes, public parks and city sidewalks.
Following the power outage at the Terremonte building in Pomona, resident Sheryl Barnes said, residents have not received a clear response from management as to when power will return. Management pointed fingers at the power company and the city, said Barnes, who was also asked to file a complaint with her insurance company.
“We were left without answers. I understood the first day when the power was out, the second day and even the third day, but for 18 fucking days,” Barnes said. “It’s not okay.”
The prolonged power outage has left residents like Barnes, who is triplegic and requires an electric wheelchair, feeling like they “have been treated like dirt,” she said.
Barnes, who tested positive for COVID-19 during the outage, said she was forced to stay with her 86-year-old mother, who is considered at high risk of contracting the virus.
Another resident who has lived in the apartment complex for two years said she felt repairs had been prolonged. Angela Barnes, who is not related to Sheryl Barnes, said days after the January storm there was no visible work going on as tenants patiently waited for power to return.
“All our food was wasted and we had no heating. I can go on, but in the end we were just overlooked,” Angela Barnes said. No other building in the apartment complex lost power during that time, she noted.
Despite these inconveniences, the two tenants say they were still obligated to pay their full $1,650 rent for February for their one-bedroom apartments. The two say they want to see future rent payments reduced for the prolonged outage and lack of housing.
On Monday, the two tenants also called the city council meeting, which was being held virtually due to the ongoing pandemic, to express their frustrations at the ordeal.
“From what I’ve learned from talking to other tenants, it’s just too common to experience unhealthy living conditions,” Angela Barnes told the council. “I want to know what you’re going to do to protect us.”
At that time, news of the outage was news to city leaders.
“The idea that people would go weeks without power is beyond me,” Mayor Tim Sandoval said at the meeting. “I can’t even begin to imagine.”
On Wednesday, Sandoval toured the apartment complex and knocked on every door. Only one resident responded, he said. When asked how he could help, the tenant said he needed food due to the power outage messing up everything in the fridge.
After consulting with the city’s housing department, Sandoval said Friday he was able to get $200 grocery gift cards for units without power. He plans to deliver them this weekend, he said.
Councilman Victor Preciado said the city is actively offering services to inform residents of their tenant rights and how to report negligence by property managers.
“We’re not going to tolerate slumlords in Pomona,” Preciado said by phone Wednesday. “It’s something we’re trying to resolve.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include information about grocery gift cards given to resort residents.