An owner of a senior apartment complex in Montrose has fixed an onsite elevator that’s been broken for almost a year, but a judge said on Wednesday she won’t dismiss a criminal suit against him until the other elevator on the property is also fixed.
When the second elevator broke down in May, some seniors were left stranded in their second- and third-floor apartments at the Honolulu Manor Senior Apartments for nearly two weeks.
While that elevator is now operational, it is not up to code and some residents have said they feel unsafe riding it.
“This has been going on for some time, and the residents have been suffering,” Judge Beverly Bourne told apartment owner Elias Shokrian and his attorney, Thomas Sands, during a hearing on Wednesday in an L.A. County Superior courtroom in Glendale.
The lawsuit was brought by the city of Glendale over the complex’s elevator problems shortly after the May incident.
Bourne denied Sands’ requests to dismiss the case and exempt Beverly Hills-based Shokrian from appearing at the next hearing scheduled for Nov. 21.
“It may be an inconvenience for your client, but he’s going to have to deal with it,” Bourne said.
If both elevators are operational by the next hearing, the city will drop its suit, according to Glendale Deputy City Atty. David Ligtenberg.
“I was very pleased to see that we’re finally getting some tangible progress,” Ligtenberg said. “That’s exactly what we’ve squarely been asking for this whole time. We just want to see repaired elevators.”
Shokrian has pleaded not guilty to the criminal misdemeanor lawsuit centered on a section of the Glendale building code that requires all mechanical devices on a property to be functional.
After the most recent hearing, Shokrian said he was “doing everything possible” to get the elevators up and running. He said he has spent about $140,000 on renovations.
“We take care of our properties. We aren’t slumlords,” Shokrian said, adding that he’s owned the property for 15 years without a previous major incident.
Not all of the residents at the complex agree.
Current tenant George Heussenstamm, 93, said, “Our lives have been made miserable by this man and his total negligence,” referring to Shokiran at the last hearing on Sept. 25.
Heussenstamm, along with several other tenants, are suing Shokrian in a separate civil suit, alleging elder abuse, age discrimination and negligence.
Shokrian said he expected that case to be settled through insurance.
A city inspector will be dispatched ahead of the next hearing to verify whether the elevators are both functional, Ligtenberg said.