Moor Hotel Red Light Abatement Lawsuit
On August 27, the City Attorney's Neighborhood Law Corps filed a lawsuit against the owners of the Moor Hotel, a three-story building on San Pablo Avenue that has become a magnet for drug dealing, prostitution and illegal dumping. In addition, the Moor Hotel poses a serious fire risk to residents and to surrounding buildings.
The building previously operated as a residential hotel, but has been vacant and unsecured for the past 15 years. Sadly, the property is frequently used for drug sales and use, prostitution and other purposes as evidenced by the needles, bottles, used condoms, lighters, discarded food, waste and graffiti both inside and outside of the building. The building has had the same owners since 1988, and they have failed to maintain or secure the property, creating grave danger and a constant public nuisance in the entire neighborhood.
The City has repeatedly communicated to the owners their responsibilities. Several years ago, the City of San Francisco filed a lawsuit against one of the owners related to violations of building and safety codes at properties the defendant owned in that city. The judge ruled that the defendant was "unable or unwilling" to fix the problems at her San Francisco properties, and appointed a receiver to manage the properties.
The City of Oakland has declared the Moor Hotel a public nuisance and has cited the owners for violations related to trespassing, drug activity and prostitution. The Oakland Fire Department has declared the hotel an "imminent fire hazard," and Oakland police consider it to be a "serious threat to public safety." Neighbors have seen candles burning at night in the windows. The building's severely deteriorated structure exposes large sections of flammable dry wood and gaps where a fire would rapidly spread between the walls and the floors. With no alarms and no sprinkler systems, it could be impossible to contain a fire before it spreads to adjacent buildings.
The City has ordered the owners to abate the dangers and nuisances at the property. The owners have disputed the order and have not corrected
of the violations. Our lawsuit asks the court to issue an injunction requiring security and third party management of the hotel, appoint a receiver to take possession of the property and come up with a plan to correct violations, and order the defendants to pay significant civil penalties and other fees.
City Attorney Appeals Ruling in Climate Change Lawsuit
Oakland has appealed the recent dismissal of our climate change lawsuit against the five largest publicly owned fossil fuel companies in the world (“Big Oil”).
In June, U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup dismissed the lawsuits Oakland and San Francisco filed against the defendant fossil fuel companies to hold them accountable for global warming and sea level rise caused by their products.
The defendant companies – Chevron, ConocoPhilips, Exxon Mobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell – knew for decades that their products would cause unprecedented global warming and sea level rise. Industry scientists warned the companies as early as the 1970s and 1980s of “severe” and “catastrophic” consequences for life on this planet.
Despite that knowledge, for the last 30 years the companies told the world that climate change is not real, and even if it is, it is not linked to fossil fuels. Our lawsuit forced the companies to admit in court that climate change is a reality. But they nevertheless refuse to accept any responsibility for the damage they caused.
Last year, Oakland and San Francisco sued the defendant companies seeking payment for sea walls and other infrastructure that will be necessary to protect lives and property from sea level rise.
Judge Alsup ruled: “The problem (of global warming) deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case.”
Our lawsuit was never about solving global warming in its entirety. Our lawsuit focuses specifically on holding these fossil fuel companies responsible for the costs to the City of Oakland – costs that are directly linked to the companies’ reckless, and under California law, unlawful actions.
We believe our lawsuit presents valid claims under California law. California law is clear that companies cannot lie to their customers about the danger of their products and then walk away with impunity. We are committed to ensuring that the defendants pay the costs of sea walls and other infrastructure necessary to protect Oakland from the ongoing and future consequences of climate change and sea level rise they caused.