SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A tenants rights group staged a sit-in at the Conrad Prebys Foundation's Mission Valley offices Thursday, months after the nonprofit sold nearly 6,000 apartments to New York based private-equity firm Blackstone.
Members of the tenants rights group ACCE San Diego say Blackstone is raising rents without making urgent health and safety repairs.
"We have concerns that their property is falling apart, the tenants are being treated fairly and that our rent increases are not affordable," said Kathy Mutchek, a demonstrator who lives in a Blackstone-owned studio in La Mesa.
Blackstone says it has committed more than $100 million to improve its communities, including roof repairs and replacements, life safety improvements and new paint.
"We will ensure that these properties continue to provide the community with a high-quality rental option at a good value and we believe our renewal rental rates are below market," the firm said in a statement to ABC-10.
Around 11:30 Thursday, about 20 members of ACCE San Diego entered the Prebys Foundation offices in Mission Valley. They told workers inside that their complaints to Blackstone have gone unanswered and demanded the foundation call the firm on their behalf.
When a Prebys Foundation worker referred them to a media relations contact, the group refused to leave and chanted things like, "Blackstone, Blackstone you can't hide, we can see your greedy side."
In a statement, Dan Yates, president of the Prebys Foundation, encouraged the demonstrators to call Blackstone directly.
“We understand a group of individuals is interested in speaking with the owner of these properties, but The Conrad Prebys Foundation no longer owns these properties and does not have any influence to broker these discussions,” Yates said.
With the group still in the offices around 12:30 p.m., workers at the Prebys foundation called police.
Three officers responded, allowing the group to stay so long as they were peaceful. The officers also declined the group's request to call Blackstone on their behalf. Around 1 p.m., demonstrators left the offices, but chanted "We'll be back" when walking down the halls. After a short demonstration in the main lobby, they exited the building on Hotel Circle North.