OAKLAND, Calif. (Candice Nguyen) - A local landlord says the City of Oakland is unfairly targeting him after inspectors said he may be responsible for the illegal removal of a $14,000 tree. This is the latest twist in a contentious housing battle first uncovered by 2 Investigates at a home in the 300 block of MacArthur Boulevard.
“The City issued a permit, and then after we started cutting [the trees] down the neighbors called to complain. The city said oops we made a mistake on the permit. They said we had to keep a tree,” said landlord Gene Gorelik. Gorelik went on to hire another crew to cut down two trees, despite the orders not to.
“We were going off the original permit. Be believe the guy came with the city in retaliation,” he said.
Gorelik said the issue lost him thousands in dollars in labor. As a response, Gorelik has sent a demand letter to city officials asking for $2500 in damages for mistakes, he said, the city made.
In March, 2 Investigates first told you about the MacArthur property when Gorelik demolished the back portion of the home while his tenant, Jahahara Aman’Ra Alkebutan Ma’at, still lived inside.
Gorelik argued there was a safety issue and the addition was unpermitted, but the City of Oakland filed a lawsuit against him for violating tenant-landlord laws. Gorelik would not comment on the pending lawsuit with Oakland.
After 2 Investigates’ first report, Gorelik attached a giant inflatable eagle to the property disparaging KTVU. Previously he put up Trump signs that could be seen from a nearby highway. According to next door neighbor Sherry Ann Jones, Gorelik’s actions have caused people to inadvertently target her home.
“He’s not concerned with my safety. I’m a 71-year-old senior living in Oakland all my life and I have never encountered anyone like this man bringing big birds and Trump signs here. At that time people began throwing things in my yard,” Jones said.
When Jones confronted Gorelik and his wife about blocking her walkway, she says he filed a restraining order against her. She says he’s done this with other outspoken neighbors as well.
“I feel this man uses techniques to benefit himself,” she said.
The City of Oakland has not responded to KTVU’s request for comment.
Gorelik argues he’s the victim in this situation and that city laws are unfairly sided with tenants.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this. I’ve bought properties in the middle of a drug block with a murder scene in front of it before and that was nothing compare to this…I feel like a character in a Kafka novel,” he said.
Written by KTVU reporter Candice Nguyen