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Picket seeks concessions for Hotel Petaluma tenants

  • Ten Picketers including one Petaluma Hotel resident Tom Brackett, far right, stand in front of the Petaluma Hotel to protest the new owners eviction of tenants to turn the hotel back into an overnight hotel. in Petaluma on Wednesday, March, 20, 2013.

    (Scott Manchester/The Press Democrat)

A handful of protesters picketed in front of Hotel Petaluma on Wednesday, calling for financial assistance for tenants of the building, which is being converted from low-cost apartments back to overnight hotel rooms.

One resident and about a dozen activists from Occupy Petaluma and the Sonoma County Solidarity Network, an offshoot of Occupy Santa Rosa, stood in the rain at lunchtime with brightly colored signs urging support.

Resident Tom Brackett has lived at Hotel Petaluma for more than 8 years, paying $613 a month for a room with a shared bathroom down the hall. He has until April 15 to move.

"I want him to delay the evictions," he said Wednesday. "Give 'em some space."

Brackett is on a waiting list at another site, but said it's been mentally difficult to move from a place he's loved. Hotel Petaluma is convenient to downtown and the Petaluma Market, where he said he enjoys the fresh food choices.

Terry Andrews of Marin County bought the former single-room occupancy residence in October after the previous owner lost the 1923 building to his lender. Last month, Andrews issued notices to the 104 tenants that he would be returning the building to its roots as a traditional hotel.

Most renters have moved out, Andrews said. A few have leases until April 15.

A few tenants sought help from Occupy activists, who hope to raise awareness of the low-income residents' situation. Last week, the group issued "demands" of Andrews for financial assistance, guaranteed deposit returns and an agreement that tenants could remain if they wished at their current rent.

Andrews said some tenants have agreed to remain as "extended-stay renters," who pay slightly more than their current rent but cannot bring in their own furniture and can't stay more than a few weeks at a time in the same room.

Holding a sign reading "Let them be," Occupy Petaluma activist Jude Mion said Andrews "doesn't need to be making more money, doesn't need to be greedy" at the expense of low-income tenants.


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