Thanks to public comments made back in 2008 about how the real estate market could recover – in short, by “clean[ing] out all those people who never should have bought in the first place and not give them sympathy” – billionaire Sam Zell is now the target of housing advocacy groups hoping to convince Wells Fargo not to sell him 1800 apartment units in East Palo Alto, California. The groups and many families in the area fear that Zell will bring an end to affordable housing in the area and possibly knock down existing buildings to make way for “high end condos and high rises.” According to some sources, “2700 families are in danger of losing their homes without relocation benefits.” Mayor Carlos Romero also discourages the sale, as does the San Mateo County Housing Director Duane Bay.
The groups and families are not just concerned about their current places of residence, but also about what Zell might do to their options for rent-controlled housing. He has used his company, Equity LifeStyle, to “sue multiple California cities to invalidate local rent control laws,” according to a press release from the Youth United for Community Action (YUCA) and has also pushed a statewide ballot measure to end rent control in California. The groups are arguing that since “Wells Fargo has money [they] don’t have to sell to the highest bidder” on the property and that the lender should not sell to a “classic vulture investor.”
Do you think that this kind of outcry is appropriate? Should Wells Fargo sell to Zell?
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