YUBA CITY (CBS 13) — Disabled residents at a Yuba City apartment complex can finally use their elevator after five long days.
According to state records, the permit for the elevator expired in February of this year. The records also show an inspector in May found six safety requirement violations.
California OSHA officials said the elevator was tagged “out of service” last week for failure to comply with state safety requirements. It was only returned to service after building owners paid the inspection fee and finally brought the elevator to compliance.
Now that the elevator is back up and running, people like Katy Willis, who is quadriplegic, are getting their first taste of fresh air in several days.
“I had been out the door, we had music, we had the sun, physical therapy was done,” she said.
When the elevator broke at Sutter Village Apartments, Willis said she missed doctors appointments and some of her neighbors went without food because none of them could get down the stairs
“It’d been five days, I was in so much pain,” Willis said.
State and federal law prohibit discrimination against disabled tenants. Under these laws, non-working elevators could be considered discrimination. In Puerto Rico, a landlord was recently fined $800,000 for this problem.
The property manager at Sutter Village apartments said the elevator outage was addressed as quickly as possible and his staff was at the complex monitoring the situation over the weekend.
“Anything and everything that could have been done for these residents, during this time, we provided as much as we could,” said Michael Burke, the property manager at Sutter Village
Burke said the five-day repair delay was partially due to the weekend. The elevator was out of service Thursday morning. He claimed another thing complicating the repair involved issues with telephone and electrical lines.
However, new information from OSHA contradicts this claim. Officials there said the elevator was never broken, just not up to code.
“Yesterday we were left with complete no information after four days of being trapped,” Willis said.
Willis said she feels like their rights were violated and says she’s afraid to use the elevator.
“I feel like I’m in prison and I feel like I’m helpless,” Willis said.