Sonoma County landlords pleaded not guilty to price gouging during emergency

- Two people pleaded not guilty in Sonoma County Superior Court this morning to raising the price of their rental housing more than 10 percent after a declaration of emergency from the wildfires in October.

Dennis George Alvarado, 62, and Arabella Alvarado, 61, did not appear in court this morning. The pleas were entered by their attorneys. A settlement conference is scheduled for Jan. 12.

The penalty for a misdemeanor charge of increasing the price of lodging, food, gas, medical supplies and other goods and services more than 10 percent for 30 days after a declared emergency is up to a year in jail and, or a fine up to $10,000.

Brown declared a state of emergency on Oct. 9, a day after the wildfires began in Sonoma and Napa counties, and he extended it to April 18, 2018 in the fire-ravaged counties.

The Alvarados were offering their rental residence for $2,400 a month before Gov. Jerry Brown declared the state of emergency on Oct. 9, according to the complaint.

The Alvarados also offered to rent the property for $3,200 on Oct. 11 and they entered into an agreement on Oct. 22 to lease the property for 12 months for $3,200, according to the complaint.

The Sonoma County District Attorney's Office has filed three alleged misdemeanor price-gouging complaints that involve six landlords. Court hearings on the other two cases also are scheduled in January.

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