LOS ANGELES, March 24, 2016 — Residents of the Madison Hotel have had an important right restored: they can have guests in their home. The Honorable James C. Chalfant issued a temporary restraining order lifting the outrageous ban on guests — which also barred attorneys and tenant organizers. The ruling is the second in a fight against Kameron Segal, owner of the Madison Hotel.
The Madison Hotel, at 423 E. 7th Street, is a residential hotel and is among the few affordable housing options in the downtown area. Many tenants who are elderly, disabled or are veterans, have called the building home for decades. In addition to turning off the heat, removing pay phones, and refusing to fix a broken elevator, Segal tried to ban any visitors, including legal counsel and tenant organizers. Because of this harassment and the unlivable conditions, 16 Madison residents filed suit in November 2015 with the help of attorneys from Inner City Law Center and Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.
“Turning off the heat, attempting to isolate tenants who are elderly and disabled by disconnecting phone lines and basically holding them prisoner by refusing to fix the elevator, was bad enough, but the management company trying to prevent residents from having visitors is unbelievable,” said Genevieve Jenkins of Inner City Law Center. Segal’s employees bullied residents by telling them that they were not allowed visitors and tried on many occasions to have attorneys from Inner City Law Center and Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and organizers from LA CAN, forcibly removed from the property by calling the police and using verbal and physical intimidation tactics. Like residents themselves, attorneys and organizers have been yelled at, harassed and intimidated by members of the Madison’s on-site management team.
On one occasion, Jenkins, along with Dianne Prado of Inner City Law Center, Jeanne Nishimoto of Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Ariana Alcaraz and Steve Diaz of LA CAN attempted to visit one of the many Madison residents they represent. The building manager, known as Mo, physically pushed past Jenkins, Prado, Nishimoto, Alcaraz and Diaz, screamed profanities at them and ordered them to leave or he would call the police. Accusing the group of trespassing, Mo went so far as to shove Diaz from the stairs. Mo then turned to the client, pointed at him and screamed, “You are not allowed to have visitors!” Mo called the police, who allowed the advocacy team to remain on the property and do their jobs.
Since June, Segal and employees of his management company have engaged in a range of illegal and deplorable tactics apparently aimed at getting tenants to leave their home, including cutting essential services, ridiculing individuals for their disabilities, age, and sexual orientation, issuing invalid 24-hour notices to enter, and threatening to forcibly remove tenants from their units. Tenants, most of whom cannot afford to leave, have no way to escape this harassment and the resulting emotional harm and fear. Many tenants also suffer from management’s failure to keep the hotel in a livable condition.
Tuesday’s victory gets Madison residents one step closer to closer to having a safe, clean, habitable place to call home.