Open letter to Berkeley mayor from concerned tenants displaced by fire

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Christopher Yee/File

An open letter to Mayor Tom Bates — from “homeless, hopeless, and helpless tenants” of the apartment building destroyed by a fire Friday — is circulating around the city of Berkeley. The letter claims that the owner of the building has long neglected the needs of the tenants and has made no attempt to communicate with the displaced tenants since the fire. Read the full text of the letter:

On Friday, November 18 a fire of unconfirmed origin started shortly before 9 p.m. on one of the upper floors of a 39-unit apartment complex located at 2441 Haste Street. After raging for several hours, fire fighters were finally able to control the blaze around 3:19 a.m. Dozens of tenants watched from below as their homes and belongs were consumed.

Although no one was initially thought to have been hurt in the fire, the building owner has reportedly been unable to produce a list of tenants, causing some to express concern that someone may have been left in the building. Tenants have also said that concerns over building safety were not properly addressed by the building owner in the past. The following is an open letter to the Mayor of Berkeley from the displaced tenants of 2441 Haste:

Open Letter to the Mayor of Berkeley Regarding 2441 Haste

From: Homeless, Hopeless, and Helpless tenants of 2441 Haste Street

The management/owner (Kenneth Ent) of 2441 Haste Street Building has not only been neglecting the upgrades of electric wiring, pluming, and other legal mandates, but has ignored its tenants. Cosmetic enhancements during the last 6 months are no cure for issues we experienced with flickering lights, faulty elevator operation, electrical shortages and much more.

Since the fire broke out, management/owner (Kenneth Ent) has not communicated with the tenants and none of the tenants have been able to communicate with the management/owner (Kenneth Ent).

We want to remind you that as a responsible authority of the city of Berkeley your office is responsible for the following.

1. As long as the Fire and Police Departments are not sure that all tenants are counted for the Fire Department must search the building to make sure nobody has been trapped in the building. Lack of rescue efforts make the City of Berkeley responsible for any death body and/or missing individual in this tragic disaster.

2. The city of Berkeley need to force the owner/management (Kenneth Ent) of 2441 Haste Street Building to set-up a temporary office for responding to tenants’ questions and immediate reimbursement for prorated rent. Considering the circumstances Mass Media is the only source to inform tenants of such a service.

3. The City of Berkeley should prevent demolishing of the building before a comprehensive investigation of the cause of the fire including interview with all tenants, review of past electric problems, fire, and related court cases. This is a very critical instrument for finding the facts which are not yet know.

4- The City of Berkeley should make sure that the owner of the building doesn’t walk away with insurance money in his bank account without taking care of his legal responsibilities to its tenants and making the City of Berkeley the host of a burned-out building.

Adelyn Baxter covers city government.

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  • guest

    That’s just about the most poorly written letter I’ve ever seen.  The tenant(s) who wrote this letter should have gotten it proofread by a literate English speaker.

  • Spelling Police

    Maybe they should re-read and check the spelling of their letter if they want to be taken seriously.  Or then again, helpless might mean unable to check for common spelling mistakes.

  • This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. Look at history of Carleton Hotel and Berkeley Inn… some on internet.

  • Anonymous

    What?  Problems that residents never raised with Rent Control?  Or contacted a tenant’s attorney?  

  • Anonymous Resident

    As a former resident of 2441 Haste Street, this letter does not represent my voice- I had never even seen this letter until it was posted here and would not have signed it unless major changes had been made. I don’t think of myself as hopeless or helpless. Perhaps it represents some, but certainly not all residents.

    • Doc

      As if we needed more evidence that rent control leads to slum and disaster.

  • Anonymous

    Good, move froward with resolve, determination and the correct attorneys to bring what appears to be long overdue justice to what disturbingly sounds to be slum housing and disengaged  as well as hands off management.  Not having a list of current tenants alone is cause for very high level investigations.  Keep searching the wreckage and debris no matter how painful the outcome might be.  There are many more building like this in Berkeley.  Lets move on them and move on them before this occurs again with the same outcome.  

    • Lt1951lt

      The City of Berkeley owes you nothing. If it was so bad they could have moved anytime they wanted..

      • Guest

        The city of Berkeley owes a fair and thorough investigation and accountability from all authorities, including the city and the landlord.
        Kind of sad, actually, that people have to demand things that should normally just be provided.

    • Nancy94618

      ha!…I lived there for a while and I didn’t even know who my room mates were at times!…how would the landlord know who lived there?….as IF we were going to sign a “new rent” lease.  hahahaha