An owner of a senior apartment complex in Montrose where both of its elevators were not working earlier this year has pleaded not guilty to violating Glendale’s building code.
A pretrial hearing for the misdemeanor criminal charge brought against Elias Shokrian by the city of Glendale has been set for Aug. 21, said David Ligtenberg, deputy city attorney, who recently took over the case.
One of the two elevators at the Honolulu Manor Senior Apartments stopped working last October and was never fixed. When the second elevator broke down just before Memorial Day, some residents were stranded in their second- and third-floor apartments for the nearly two weeks it took the owner to get it running again.
“If [Shokrian] comes into compliance, there would be no further need to prosecute,” said Ligtenberg, suggesting that if the city’s demands that the two elevators at 2500 Honolulu Ave. are functional and up to code by the next court date, the charges might be dropped. A partnership that controls the building, Montrose LP, was also charged.
The court date was “set out this far, so that they would have time to get things done,” Ligtenberg said, adding that it would take Shokrian time to buy the parts and make the repairs.
While the second elevator has been used by residents since it was fixed, it had not been brought up to code. In early June, its platform often did not stop level with the floor and jerked unexpectedly, and residents say those problems persist to this day. Last week, an elderly female resident reportedly fell and was injured while trying to get into the elevator, according to three people familiar with the situation.
“Many people are still afraid to use the elevator,” resident Michelle Head, 72, said. “So, a lot of people are using the stairs, if they can, though they’d prefer not to.”
Head said she is not one of the people who feels comfortable navigating the stairs that lead in and out of the property. During the two weeks both elevators were broken, she says she did not leave the apartment complex at all.
A separate civil case alleging elder abuse, age discrimination and negligence has been filed by 19 residents against Shokrian, according to their attorney, Raymond Zakari. Originally filed on May 31, it was amended later to include more residents, he said.
Shokrian could no be reached for comment. A man who picked up a call to a cellphone number listed for Shokrian said he knew nothing of the case and quickly hung up.
According to Ligtenberg, Shokrian’s attorney told the court that one elevator was operating, and they were in the process of fixing the second. He said he assumed that meant it was at least in better working order than when the city inspector declared in early June that it was not up to code.
City inspectors visited the property three times last week and said that, while the elevator was functioning better, it was still not working quite right, according to the property’s manager, Marie, who declined to give her last name.
Now, the owner plans to replace both elevators, which could take months, she added.
Officials with Glendale’s Neighborhood Services Department declined to say whether the city signed off on the elevator last week, citing an inability to release details while litigation is ongoing.