Chico residents organize tenant union in response to eviction notices


Panama Springs United Residents giving a clenched fist salute in front of their building. Sep. 21, 2022. Photo Courtesy of Addison Winslow

Several tenants of Panama Springs Apartments have formed a union in response to receiving notices of eviction. The apartment complex was recently purchased by Beck Asset Management LLC, a Roseville based asset-management company.

With the support of city council member Alex Brown, and city council candidate Addison Winslow, the new union, Panama Springs United, published a letter requesting that the city council pass an ordinance requiring Right of First Refusal in multifamily rentals. 

This means that all companies seeking to sell such properties would have to give tenants or community organizations the right to buy a property before it could be sold to outside buyers.

The tenants include veterans, older adults and people with disabilities, including those receiving services from the Department of Behavioral Health.

After living at Panama Springs Apartments for over 10 years, tenant Susan Frazer received a 60-day eviction notice. Frazer, who is 70-years-old, is living from social security check to social security check.

“I understand he [the previous owner] has the right to sell it,” Frazer said in regards to the new ownership, “But he could have waited at least a year, not the winter time.”

This year Frazer’s husband died as well as the pet dog she had for 19 years. Facing the eviction alone has added financial and emotional distress to her situation.

Faced with the $5,000 bill of her husband’s funeral, Frazer is left with very little money to search for new housing.

woman standing in front of her apartment
Panama Springs tenant Susan Frazer standing in front of her apartment. Photo taken Sept. 23 by Molly Myers.

On the night of the Sept. 20 city council meeting, council member Brown released a statement criticizing the failure of the council to put a discussion of the issue on the agenda. Brown submitted a motion, but it was not seconded by any other member of the council.

According to Brown, this undermines the claimed commitment of the city council to deal with issues of affordable housing and homelessness, noting that the same meeting approved the Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report, a report to the Department of Housing and Urban Development on how the city would use funding to benefit its low-income population.

When The Orion reached out to city council member Sean Morgan, he said he did not favor a city council discussion or any kind of intervention regarding Panama Springs Apartments stating that the property was legally purchased. 

Morgan said the city ensured the rights of tenants were protected, and that any kind of ordinance would be a “slippery slope.”

“California has a housing crisis, caused largely by bad policy. One way to make it worse is adding even more government control over privately owned properties,” Morgan said.

Other members of the city council have not yet responded to requests for comment.

Molly Myers and Christopher Hill can be reached at [email protected].

Disclaimer: Christopher Hill is a former colleague and classmate of Addison Winslow. This article is not an endorsement of any political candidate.