Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo announced Friday that one of the previously manually operated elevators at Cathay Manor, a 16-story apartment building for low-income seniors, has been fully modernized to operate automatically.

The councilman added that crews will next begin work to modernize the second elevator, which is being manually operated. The two elevators at Cathay Manor have been inoperable since Oct. 15. The Los Angeles City Council passed a motion on Nov. 23 aimed at restoring elevator service at Cathay Manor.

“My paramount concern is for our seniors’ safety, security and accessibility at Cathay Manor. It is unacceptable that they had to endure inoperable elevators,” Cedillo said Friday afternoon. “I worked to make them operable again with the help of the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) to secure a qualified elevator repair company to restore elevator service permanently with a fully functioning elevator.”

The owner and operator of the Chinatown complex was charged on Oct. 28 by the City Attorney’s Office with 16 misdemeanors related to the lack of elevator service.

Cathay Manor houses about 250 senior citizens, some of whom are disabled, and Cedillo’s office said in November the inoperable elevators have created unsafe and hazardous conditions.

Phyllis Chiu, a representative for Chinatown Community for Equitable Development, called into the City Council meeting and spoke about the issue, saying elevators have been broken for more than 44 days in the last four months. She said one elevator was working now after the city temporarily repaired it, but it needs a 24/7 operator.

She supported the motion, but added, “Don’t stop there. We don’t want the elevators to just be repaired temporarily, we want them to be modernized so we don’t have these problems again.”

Gong (Don) Toy, the CEO and president of the complex’s owner, Chinese Community on Aging Housing Corp., told City News Service on Oct. 28 that mechanics had been working on the elevators for two weeks.

“They’ve been trying real, real hard to get it functioning. Unfortunately, because they’re so old, there’s no readily (available) parts for some of them,” Toy said. “Why doesn’t it work? I don’t know, I’m not a mechanic. We trust whoever’s there, and I was told that because after 20 years, they’re no longer obligated to make parts or have parts readily available.”

The 16 charges against CCOA and Toy are related to the alleged failure to address inoperable elevators over the last two months, the alleged failure to properly maintain and repair the building and equipment inside the building, the alleged failure to test and maintain equipment in accordance with the fire department’s fire safety protocols and their alleged failure to comply with the city’s orders.

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