DJ Becker/The Madera Tribune
Soon-to-be-displaced residents of Laguna Knolls Apartments gather to speak with Madera city council member Santos Garcia, center right, Saturday night. Most residents of the 46 apartment complex were shocked when the found 60 day notices on their doors, an action that could displace between 200 to 250 residents.
Residents at the Laguna Knolls Apartment complex came home to an unpleasant surprise Saturday evening when they found 60-day notices to vacate on their doors, stating they had to leave their homes shortly after Christmas.
The older complex located in the 500 block of South Madera Avenue had originally been built as townhouses. It contains 46 two- and three-bedroom units, and has long been the subject of complaints of substandard conditions by residents.
The property had recently changed hands, residents said, and some were hopeful when they saw new management and improvements like new roofing and exterior paint were finally being made.
Resident Claudia Garza said she was shocked and stunned when she found the notice to vacate on her door. Garza had been living at the complex for three years and did not know what she and her family were going to do now, and she was also concerned for her neighbors.
“There’s a housing shortage and there are so few other options to rent in Madera,” she said. These are hard-working people with children — living paycheck to paycheck, how are they going to come up with a new deposit and first month’s rent even if they can find a new place in 60 days? This isn’t enough time ... There are also people here that are elderly and sick. There are two sisters, in their mid- to late 80’s that have lived here for 30 years. What’s going to happen to them now?” Garza asked.
Other long term residents described deteriorating conditions over the years — holes in walls, moldy carpet, non-working appliances, leaking pipes, and epic battles with a rat infestation which they said had only recently been finally been resolved.
Garza and other residents went on to say that most of the tenants even understood the new owner needed to raise the rents to cover improvements, and that increasing rents wasn’t even the issue. “They could work with us, give us a little more time ... do one section at a time? This is just not right. We are willing to work with them. We’d like to be able to come back ... But putting all these people out at once, on the streets right at the holidays?” she said.
Madera city council members Donald Holley and Santos Garcia met and spoke with about 50 of the residents who gathered Saturday night and said they were looking into the situation and reviewing possible options.
Calls for comment to the property manager of Laguna Knolls Apartments were not returned as of press time.