by Lynda Carson

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]akland City Attorney Barbara Parker filed a lawsuit against the West Grand Hotel due to “unsafe, inhumane living conditions.” The hotel, located at 641 W. Grand Avenue in Oakland, is a single room occupancy (SRO) hotel, primarily for low-income and disabled tenants
The West Grand Hotel is owned by Oakland JMO LLC, a Georgia company not licensed to do business in California, according to the Oakland City Attorney.
According to the Oakland City Attorney, the lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court on August 4 asked the court to declare the West Grand Hotel a public nuisance and to shut it down for a one-year period. The suit also seeks damages for years of unpaid Rent Program service fees and asks for substantial civil penalties and damages from the owners.
The lawsuit asks the court to appoint a receiver to take control of the hotel, relocate the tenants and make necessary repairs, with the owners responsible for all costs. The lawsuit also asks the court to order the owners to live at the West Grand Hotel until the nuisance is abated.
The lawsuit was filed against the West Grand Hotel and its owners for failing to abate building code violations, failure to pay rent program service fees, violation of hotel, motel, and rooming house operating standards, violation of hotel rates and registration requirements. In addition, the City of Oakland charges that the hotel is a drug nuisance in the neighborhood.
In essence, the City of Oakland is alleging that the owners of the hotel are slumlords, and some of the residents and their friends at the hotel are involved in drug-related activities.
The suit describes extremely hazardous and filthy conditions at the hotel and “extensive violation of numerous fire and building codes.” Also, the suit charges the hotel owners and managers with allowing heroin, cocaine and other illegal drugs to be sold in and around the hotel.
As of 7:35 p.m. on August 11, the phone number for the hotel was no longer in service. No one was available for comment. The West Grand Hotel was still occupied on August 12, and tenants could be seen coming and going from the hotel, and a man could be seen sitting at the front desk. However, a sign in the front of the building said “No Visitors,” and the front door was locked.
Oakland Attorney Andrew Wolff has clients at the hotel and said: “This is the worst housing condition I have ever encountered in my practice, and the level of tenant abuse is obscene. I commend the City of Oakland for taking this place down.”
Wolff added, “I have clients at the hotel and we intend to prosecute our case to the fullest extent of the law against the owners. I hope the city settles with these people so they not only pay a fine, and relocate the tenants, but also agree not to own rental property in Oakland again.”
Omid Razi, Richard Spitler and Mi Hwa Spitler also were named in the lawsuit as defendants. According to the suit, the City of Oakland believes that Oakland JMO LLC, Omid Razi, Richard Spitler and Mi Hwa Spitler own or manage the West Grand Hotel.
Omid Razi has a personal injury law office in Beverly Hills called the Razi Law Group. Numerous websites list Richard Spitler as the manager of the hotel, and according to Advanced Back Ground Checks, Mi Hwa Spitler resides in San Leandro, and is also known as Mi Pitler.
Also, the lawsuit charges that the company that owns the West Grand Hotel, Oakland JMO LLC, is a corporation organized in the State of Georgia, and is currently not in good standing, and is not licensed to do business in California.
According to the Oakland City Attorney: “For years, the West Grand Hotel at 641 West Grand Avenue has been a nuisance to the neighborhood and a danger to the dozens of people who live there. The property has long been a center of drug activity, including sales, storage and distribution of cocaine and heroin. Since April 2013, Oakland police have arrested at least 23 people for drug sales and other drug crimes connected to the property, and officers have recovered firearms and large amounts of drugs packaged for sale inside the building.”
There is no mention in the lawsuit that the owners or managers of the hotel have been arrested for allowing the alleged criminal activity to occur on their property at the hotel.
It appears that the poor people residing at the hotel are being demonized by the City of Oakland, and are being displaced from their housing, and possibly from West Oakland — which the City and wealthy developers want to gentrify under the West Oakland Specific Plan (WOSP).
At the time the lawsuit was filed against the West Grand Hotel, the City of Oakland simply claimed that dozens of people lived there as tenants or occupants, but there is no mention in the lawsuit as to how many tenants they are actually talking about. Nor does the lawsuit mention how many rooms are in the single room occupancy hotel, where people share bathrooms throughout the building.
According to knowledgeable sources, the occupants of the hotel have been residing in dangerous, slum-like conditions, and the lawsuit alleges that there are numerous code violations throughout the building.
Oakland JMO LLC was incorporated in Georgia in May 24, 2012, only two weeks before the company bought the West Grand. However, the principal address for the corporation is 8383 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 450, in Beverly Hills. The Razi Law Group’s main office is located at 8383 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 610, Beverly Hills, CA 90211. The firm also has office locations in Carlsbad, Sacramento, Palo Alto, San Francisco, San Jose, and in Oakland at 1300 Clay Street, Suite 600.
Attorney Andrew Wolff can be reached at 510/834-3300.
Lynda Carson may be reached at

The West Grand Hotel has been sued by the Oakland City Attorney for slum conditions and dangerous code violations.
The West Grand Hotel has been sued by the Oakland City Attorney for slum conditions and dangerous code violations..


I Like Blight

by Carol Denney

I like blight

where the rent is low

where the music’s hot

and the street’s a show

and you can’t predict

any page you turn

and the shadows cry

and the echoes burn

and the kids run wild

and the trains go by

and there is no style

and the papers fly

and you can’t be seen

‘cause it’s so intense

and it’s hard to love

but it all makes sense

and the pressure’s fierce

‘cause they want that juice

but it’s all on fire

and it won’t kick loose

and it can’t be bought

and it can’t be sold

and it’s all it’s got

and it’s never old

I love blight

‘cause they walk right by

not a thing to see

not a thing to buy

no appointments here

no lunch at two

‘cause it’s cheap and rough

and black and blue

and they walk real fast

with their bags clutched tight

and their keys held hard

in the bright blue light

and it all makes sense

as the moon goes numb

they’re ashamed they went

but they all took some

and it was so good

and it was so right

and it was so wrong

on a perfect night

and they don’t look back

‘cause they might get caught

in the undertow

of perfumed rot

and love and death

and hate and heart

and steam and spit

and fire and art