Elk Meadows now licensed to do business
The Elk Meadows apartment complex on Kilby Road in the Snyderville Basin has gotten a business license from Summit County - 18 months after it applied for one.
Elk Meadows, the white apartment complex along I80 between Pinebrook and Kimball Junction, provides Summit County 106 units of affordable housing, with rents based on a percentage of tenants’ income. A two-bedroom apartment typically rents for about $1440 per month, and a three-bedroom for a little under $1700. The tenants are service industry workers and most speak only Spanish.
The owners of Elk Meadows, Seattle-based Security Properties, applied for a business license on May 14, 2020. It was denied.
Then-Summit County clerk Kent Jones advised Security Properties to resolve code violations in a timely manner. Violations included unstable stairs, missing smoke detectors, cockroaches and bedbugs, and extensive mold.
What followed was a year and a half of repeated inspections by fire, health and building inspectors, as well as numerous meetings between the Summit County attorney’s office, inspectors, and Security Properties.
Doing business without a license is a class B misdemeanor in Utah. The county attorney can issue citations or fines to unlicensed businesses or order them to cease operations.
Deputy County Attorney Helen Strahan said by email that Security Properties didn’t incur any fines as it brought the complex up to code.
Her email said in part “In this case, all involved parties appreciated that the end goal was compliance, health, and safety for our County’s residents and children. Literal and strict enforcement of the County’s business license code in this unique context could have resulted in shutting down the business in the middle of a global pandemic, thereby forcing several families to locate new affordable housing or face homelessness.”
She declined to comment on why fines weren’t levied.
Security Properties owns and manages a real estate portfolio of more than 25,000 multi-family housing units that its website says is valued at $5.5 billion and is one of the country’s largest. According to LinkedIn, the privately held company has fewer than 200 employees, and Dun and Bradstreet financial data says the company’s annual revenues total $20 million.
Lauren Beheshti, who worked as a Park City housing advocate, said Security Properties and its local property manager were uniquely indifferent to tenants’ concerns.
“Oftentimes in that job I had to reach out to landlords directly and with all the other apartment complexes - Iron Horse, Aspen Villas, Powderwood, it wouldn't take me more than a day to get on the phone with them," she said. "Elk Meadows, I don't think I ever spoke with somebody one time, and that was in six months. Every single week we were sending money to that apartment complex - that says something. We're trying to help their tenants and the people who lived in their buildings.”
Security Properties could operate Elk Meadows without a business license between the time it bought the complex until May of 2020 because it was doing its own property management during that time. A license was legally required as soon as a property management company took over running it.
Throughout the pandemic and federal eviction moratorium, local advocates told KPCW that Elk Meadows tenants were evicted or threatened with eviction when they requested repairs.
“Multiple people experienced issues, tried to report the issues and then either didn't get them resolved or were threatened with eviction for not reporting them or for having the issues in general, so yeah, to me that says there is not a sense of urgency in trying to get the issues fixed,” Beheshti said.
Former tenant Vicky Luna, a mother of six who discussed her frustration with broken appliances and mold last month and allowed KPCW to photograph the disrepair in her unit, was recently evicted and is now living with her family in a hotel.
Security Properties was granted a business license this month after passing inspections. Its spokespeople did not respond to request for comment.