Preface: This blog is written specifically for Eric Garcetti, our Jewish Mexican-American mayor, who earlier supported our claim ala “Residential Hotel” — and for our City Councilman Paul Koretz, who tirelessly worked and came to our rescue after that horrible “120-day-eviction-notice” situation last winter. However, in addition, I am writing this for public consumption, so that our friends — such as, Steve Lopez, the L.A. Times Pulitzer-winnin’ columnist, who featured the “ole guy” and a couple of other tenants in a January column — and Angie Crouch, the NBC Channel 4 intrepid reporter who made sure that our first “protest” march ( re: that awful 120-day notice) — was “live” on the 5 o’clock news — and our not-to-forget editor of the UCLA Daily Bruin (we made the front-page, no less!!) — Emaan Baqai, who has since graduated. There are others, besides our families, who are unnamed and have supported me, my wife and our fantastic aged co-inhabitants, here at our ex-UCLA-dorm residence. So, please read on ……..
Wasn’t last night a “lola-palooza” — it was Game 5 with Kershaw on the mound — and that young Puerto Rican Dodger outfielder Kike Hernandez — who made the evenin’ so much fun with his 3 — yes, I said three — home runs; two with a man on base and then one in the second innin’ — a grand slam (those totaled 9 ribbies!!). And the latter situation is the lead-in to my plea to you both for support — Mayor Eric and Councilman Paul!! You see, we had a very important meetin’ here in Westwood at 947 Tiverton Ave, which I have previously nicknamed the CAN (Casa de los Anceanos del Norte). Your representatives from the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID) — Messrs. Galardi and McDevitt — had called the meeting to explain their acceptance of the Tenant Habitability Plan (THP) which had been developed with the owners of our building — Watermark executives from Tuscon, AZ. I’ll mention an interestin’ and perplexin’ item upfront!! — this plan was developed without any apparent awareness or knowledge of the needs of the very, very, very aged and incapacitated tenants at the CAN!!
We tenants had been given a document package containin’ the two THP alternatives on October 10th; and here we were on the 19th — an audience of extremely old-timers in wheel-chairs, or with walkers, or usin’ canes — bein’ told that we had only two options — i.e. two possible places to reside while our former UCLA dorm was bein’ renovated — mind you, these two nearby apartment buildings were selected by our building’s owners without any input from our aged group of tenants!! Needless to say, this did not go over to well with our impatient group with all our children also in attendance. Mind you, we are bein’ instructed to move out durin’ construction without any apparent consideration of the physical limitations of the tenants. One of the locations is at 888 Hilgard, if you google, it shows an entrance with about 10 steps to the lobby — jiminy, with my cane I can barely manage the entrance to our RiteAid Drugstore with its stairs — they have a senior citizen conveyance at the store, which I use — and maybe the Hilgard place has a “seniorized” way to enter, but it was not so indicated — and why do they show, in their THP photos, that they furnished us — in 2 out of the 5 photos — a very, very, very modern gym — somethin’ most necessary for our inactive (??) group that have trouble steppin’ off the sidewalk while crossin’ the street. I guess they would hold daily exercise classes — but this was not mentioned in the THP document — and I am bein’ a bit facetious!!
The other apartment building in the plan is The Glendon (note: “The” is capitalized and always used in the building’s title), actually a very nice up-to-the-minute place with most rooms recently completely modernized and youth-oriented — and it’s home to lots and lots of grad students at UCLA with their fantastic fitness center, edgeless infinity pool, executive business center and rooms with gourmet kitchens. Gourmet kitchen?? — that’s what a 93-year-ole codger like me needs in my old age. I retired from cookin’ when my back gave out in 2011, while the wife and I were enjoyin’ our lives as ex-pats in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (there for 24 years, mind you!). [aside: The wife retired from the kitchen in ’83 — after IBM had promoted me to a directorship in Paris, France. Even though we had spent a few thousand dollars to modernize an ancient French kitchen in the 16th arrondisement, she stood up at our table at a local French eatin’ establishment — when the waiter placed a huge crock of chocolate mousse for dessert on our table– statin’ emphatically — “I am retiring from ever cookin’ again!” and I can guarantee to this day — that she meant it.]
In Mexico, I had turned our kitchen into “Emiliano’s Cocina” — Home of the World Famous Matzo Ball Soup, and you would have been amazed at the number of deliveries that we would make before breakfast — there were lots of good stuff besides that soup on our menu!! Stews, other soups, Cajun meatloaf, and finally, “addictive” toffee-like cookies (all recipes, upon request)! And, we only returned to Los Angeles — so that I could have a laminectomy (L1-L3), a double hernia operation, and finally, a cow’s heart valve put in place. Take that, Father Time!! I am just one of the examples of our walkin'(?) aged group challengin’ this ridiculous THP — but, I can at least maneuver enough to shop at the next-door Ralph’s, or the nearby Target, RiteAid, or Trader Joe’s!! The Glendon was where the wife, daughter, and I had considered when the Watermark executive tried to challenge us with his 120-day eviction SCARE!! I defy anyone our age to continuously walk the unbelievable lengthy and dark hallways from elevator to rooms — it is absolutely no place for our 85 – 104 year-old constituents to be housed — even temporarily — but never for an anticiapated (?) 15 months or more. And, I have not mentioned the fact that when I requested The Glendon management to “senior-ize” the bathroom … ala make it a “walk-in” shower — they refused!! Nothing was mentioned, in the THP, about changin’ the bathrooms for our aged community.
Dear Mayor Garcetti and Councilman Koretz — excuse an ole guy with his unlimited ego — for publicly expressin’ his personal (and I am sure — that for 100%-of-our-other tenants) disgust with the California Tenant Habitability Plan as furnished to us by your employees at the HCID, solely from the input of the Watermark management and legal team — with not one iota of input nor investigation of the population residin’ here at the CAN!! What made last night so interestin’ — and somewhat terrifyin’ — was that besides the Watermark Chairman David Freshwater and President/CEO David Barnes — there were two outside attorneys representin’ different upscale Beverly Hills law firms. I guess a bunch of aged Jews, still includin’ one of our remaini’ Holocaust survivors, Dorin Mathis, are a fair match — I sure hope so!! And there were maybe 3 or 4 other Watermark employees and/or attorneys (of lesser stature) in evidence. Forgive me for each of these outsiders may have been introduced at the outset of the meeting. Remember, I was upstairs, in Apartment #430, watchin’ the NLCS baseball game, and I didn’t leave my room until after Kike’s 2nd home run — that 2nd-inning grand slam — that put our beloved Dodgers ahead of the Cubbies and defending World Champions — by the ridiculous score of 7 to 0! Upon entering the meetin’ room, I reported this to the seated audience, temporarily interruptin’ Mr. McDevitt!! !Wow!! What a way to end my request for support, if needed, from you two fair-minded Los Angelenos!! ‘nuf ……
Post Script: I have only hit upon a few issues — and tried to stay away from the emotional “human” side. One item, though, most important is the fact that we dine together — our three meals a day — in our large dinin’ hall. The THP gives us each some dollars for meals. Remember, the CAN is a former UCLA dormitory and has that same feel of “togetherness” that it was meant for. When they bring high-powered lawyers to the meeting — it isn’t a form of togetherness — but here, where we live there is an essence of fraternity (probably, it’s really sorority) — and I have dubbed it camaraderie — particularly among these aged women. Whether it’s Bingo, or Rummikub, or “what’s the movie tonight?” — there’s a bond that these women have — like no other!! Is it the feelin’ that this is their last nestin’ place? Believe me, it’s a sisterhood — one of the other Holocaust survivors — Martha Kiss — left us a month or so ago to join three other ole gals at nearby Sunrise — she was the long-time “4th” in their ‘Rummikub’ game!! I think these last 20 or so remainin’ women here — have a bond, and that’s a key reason they have not left to go to another senior facility. This is their home — it provides their togetherness — their camaraderie. And the final point I want to make is that the Watermark organization manages about 4o senior facilities — and it would seem there would be some humanity evident in their corporate management — there’s none.! (period. exclamation point!) — for last evenin’, when the Watermark Chairman gave his card to my 99-year-old dinin’ mate — Lillian Koslow — he gave her the one for his financial organization. David Freshwater is President of The Freshwater (Financial) Group, and he is the founder of Watermark Retirement Communities, Inc (some 40 senior facilities in the U.S.). He gives my buddy his “financial” personal card — not his “humanity” personal card — he runs lots of senior citizen facilities. It’s like my son Gary always tells me: “Dad, you have too much heart to be a good businessman”. Ya know, these folks have hearts but they are made of stone!! Mine will be 93 years old on Sunday — and it goes “moo”! Finally, ‘nuf ……..