A Ventura County Superior Court judge has prohibited the owners of La Serena retirement village from selling the financially troubled facility or from paying bills without approval of the state.
Judge Edwin Osborne issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday in response to a lawsuit by the California Department of Social Services, which is asking the court to appoint an administrator to operate the 105-unit complex.
The state filed the suit to protect the complex’s 90 residents, said Gale Wright, spokeswoman for Social Services, which licenses retirement homes. A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 18.
In July, La Serena’s operator, Pacific Homes, issued 30-day eviction notices to residents, saying the complex was almost broke. The complex’s owner, La Serena Manor, owes about $10.8 million, according to officials of Security Pacific National Bank. The bank has initiated foreclosure proceedings against La Serena Manor.
Residents, who paid $25,000 to $110,000 to move into the complex, pay monthly rents of $850 to $2,800, depending on the size of the apartment and the type of care needed.
To keep the facility open long enough to find a buyer, Thousand Oaks officials and private donors have provided $50,000, said David A. Wismer, who organized a fund-raising effort.
Several retirement home operators have expressed interest in buying La Serena, said Keith Marshall, a vice president of Security Pacific.
Wismer, whose 88-year-old mother lives at La Serena, said the cost of hiring an administrator could force the home to close.
But Wright said the state may withdraw its request for an administrator after a meeting scheduled for Wednesday with Pacific Homes. The operator will have to prove that it can adequately care for the residents, she said. Even if an administrator is appointed, “we will not let the doors be closed because the company can’t pay,” she said.