Tenants angry about construction

Recent work on the Promontory Point Villa Apartments in Newport Beach has sparked an uproar among a faction of residents brought together through a blog.

They assert, anonymously, that the managers of the Irvine Co.-owned-and-operated property, off East Pacific Coast Highway near Jamboree, did not provide adequate warning of the scope of the project.

Although they appreciate that improvements will be made, they wish they could have provided input before the scaffolding went up and the hammers began to pound.

The construction, which began Sept. 17, includes rain gutter installation, a new patio floor coating and new stucco on the outside of the buildings, said Irvine Co. spokesman Mike Lyster.

All unoccupied units will receive interior renovations as well. The Promontory Point Villa Apartments complex was built in 1974.

Community members have voiced a litany of concerns over the process, including inconvenience, the presence of noise and dirt, and potential health hazards from mold. They have considered the problems in community meetings and on the blog started by one resident, who hoped it would serve as a forum for change.

Work should be focused on smaller sections, tenants argue, because the scaffolding prevents them from using their patios and makes access to their homes easier for potential intruders and thieves. To them, the added security patrols are not sufficient.

The company expects work to be completed in early 2015. In the meantime, Lyster said the company aims to address on a case-by-case basis residents' needs.

Residents will receive credit on their rents, depending on the size of the unit and duration of work. Patio plants and removed patio furniture will be looked after. Bungalows have also been made available for short stays when needed.

The Irvine Co. has invited residents to attend community meetings, with dinner and complimentary valet parking provided, on three dates in October.

Nonetheless, resident Cheryl Archer said she could not take one more month in her unit.

On Friday, she plucked the envelope containing a notice from the general manager granting permission to break her lease without providing a 30-day written notice and without penalty.

"How am I supposed to have Christmas here?" she asked, gazing at the scaffolding outside her windows that she says will obstruct her view of the famous Newport Beach boat parade.

Archer, who works from home as a consultant, said she has had trouble honoring appointments with clients over the phone because the noise can get so loud.

The apartment complex has offered her use of a day suite, but she said the Internet did not work when she first went to use it, defeating the point.

The clubhouse has also been opened to residents for use as a "getaway space," Lyster said, but Archer described it as hot and without water or coffee.

Magdalena Thomasson, who moved in with her husband and infant, scoffed at the notion that the complex is trying to "minimize inconvenience," as letters from the company say.

Her windows must constantly be closed and the shades drawn. She cannot see the view and gets no sunlight. She keeps the baby's stroller inside to avoid its being covered by the particles floating in the air.

"We are living in a construction area," she said, gesturing toward the men in hard hats. "Normally, you are not even allowed to go there."

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