Gnawing problem


    As a resident of Malibu Canyon Village Condos, I cope with the realities of living in a wood-frame structure. One of these realities is termites, which have apparently infested the complex. The Home Owners Association and Real Support Property Management’s weapon of choice to do the eradication job? Vikane gas, also known as the gas used to kill the Jews in World War II Germany.

    Now I don’t like termites threatening the stability of a four-story building, but I also know some things about Vikane and its effects. The most worrying being this deadly nerve-toxin’s ability to linger, even in “ventilated” structures like condos.

    The company slated to do the job, Western Exterminator, is required by law to disclose the risks and symptoms of exposure (which include, but aren’t limited to: seizure, nerve damage, and lung damage), but won’t guarantee an occupant’s health against the poisonous effects of the gas! For that matter, neither will the Home Owners Association or Real Support Management. Why? Would they knowingly expose loved ones to this gas, even with “EPA Approval?” My daughter and others in the building are lung-sensitive. People are routinely told their homes need two or three days of ventilating. Extra days that cost extra money. Which means we’re forced back into the building in the shortest time. Why?

    Is this right, or business gone crazy? The Home Owners Association and individual owners also refuse to compensate tenants for the actual cost of relocation, or guarantee against theft or loss. Instead, we are told by Real Support’s lawyer to leave, or be removed by the sheriff! California Civil Code 1364 (c) states clearly: “The costs of temporary relocation during the repair and maintenance of the areas within the responsibility of the association shall be borne by the owner of the separate interest affected.” For me, that’s over three hundred dollars a day to relocate, remove and board pets, remove plants, computers, important records, food (or wrap it in a special bag!), valuables, leave our doors open and unlocked for three or more days, leave our keys in the hands of hired security, stay in a motel, buy food out, and totally rearrange our lives. To expect me to pay for all this and risk my and my family’s health as well is too much.

    Six months ago tenants and a small group of homeowners successfully fought and won a delay against the use of Vikane, with a promise from the Home Owners Association that there would be a meeting with representatives from a variety of extermination companies, so safer alternatives to Vikane could be discussed and chosen. This promise has not been lived up to. Why? Why is this toxic nightmare being shoved down our throats? Much safer alternatives are available, like microwave or freezing. I’m sure through research and reasonableness, the Home Owners Association and Real Support Management would discover there is no need to move, or use Vikane, except perhaps that it’s cheaper?

    James Heartland