Tenants in La Jolla shopping plaza: evictions will wipe out life savings

LA JOLLA - From restaurants to a neurotechnology startup, tenants at a shopping plaza in La Jolla tell 10News they're being unfairly evicted.

Philip Low's groundbreaking brain research has led to several visits with President Obama.

Low's research subjects include famed physicist Stephen Hawking.    

But his promising startup Neurovigil may be headed out of San Diego.

”It's a big decision and it might mean we end up packing and going elsewhere," he said.

At his lab in La Jolla, the boxes are packed.

Low says he was notified a few weeks ago that he has six months to vacate a retail plaza on Fay Avenue because the property was being sold to the La Jolla Music Society.

He says his lease allows him to renew the lease for five years – something he said he did months before the October 2013 renewal date.

"The owner changed his e-mail and was avoiding tenants on the issue of a rumored sale, so I verbally renewed the lease on several occasions," said Low.

Low added, "It's very disappointing when you're betrayed like that."

We contacted the property owners -- Crescenzo Limited Partnership. One of the owners told us Low never renewed the lease, which Low calls a lie.

Low says he's not the only one given a bad deal.

Four other tenants are also leaving, including salons and several restaurants.

Low says Tapenade, a French restaurant, also had an option to renew and they did.

The restaurant owners and property owner declined to talk about the restaurant, citing a confidentiality agreement, but Low says the restaurant was bullied into signing away their renewal option -- or face a quick eviction.

The owner of the other restaurant – Pleiku Café -- says she wasn't given the option.

Jasmine Phan was on a month-to-month lease, but says she was told she'd be given six months notice of a sale.

Instead, Phan says she had 30 days to shut down a restaurant she sank $120,000 in to.

“It's devastating, because it's our whole life savings. We're pretty much left with nothing,” said Phan.

She doesn't have the money to pay for storage, so she can't relocate.

”La Jolla prides itself on being respectful and civilized.  To see this kind of greed here and to see lives destroyed is heartbreaking,” said Low.

The property owner says Phan could have had an extra six months, but struck a deal to leave sooner.

Phan says that's never happened, pointing out she had to toss out $10,000 in food.

Low is weighing a lawsuit and says he’s also frustrated at the La Jolla Music Society.

“They could have given them a few months free rent to make up for the loss of investment and declined to do so. It’s greed,” said Low.

The property owner says the La Jolla Music Society has been “unbelievably generous and accommodating.” 

The La Jolla Music Society declined comment.                  

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