“We can’t have change unless we all come together”: Sol Y Luna scrambles to get up to code following several complaints
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The University of Arizona started a new school year this week, welcoming its largest class ever.
However, hundreds of students are dealing with more than back-to-school jitters. Sol Y Luna residents are raising serious concerns about their living conditions.
The off-campus student housing complex has a troubled history. In March, the City of Tucson threatened to prosecute Sol Y Luna and its tenants responsible for throwing large objects off the rooftop into the Islamic Center of Tucson parking lot.
Now, management is scrambling to complete necessary repairs.
“The floor is completely soaked. It reeks, it smells horrible in here,” said Nathan DeStephane in a video shared with KOLD News 13. “There’s no bathroom door.”
DeStephane lives on the 14th floor of Luna. Water is seeping in the through his ceiling and walls, drenching the carpet.
Every floor seems to have problems, though.
“My son went downstairs to get his keys. [They had] no keys, no fobs for the elevator,” said Tracy Zimmerman. “We received an email from [management] stating some of the units did not have air conditioning.”
Zimmerman says her son had to stay in a hotel because the AC in his apartment wasn’t working. Temperatures peaked at 97°F. The doorknob to his room was put on backwards, trash was piled up in the hallways, and Zimmerman says there are several safety concerns.
“We had to do something,” she said. “It was a major health issue.”
So, Zimmerman created the “Sol Y Luna Parents Unite” Facebook group. In just four days, the group has grown to more than 400 members.
Tucson City Council Member Steve Kozachik says the situation is “unacceptable.”
“Our fire code people were in there again today,” said Kozachik. “If they find fire code life safety violations, they will mandate those get fixed within 24 to 48 hours. We are not going to shut the place down over quality-of-life issues, but we will shut the place down if it’s a life safety issue. That includes broken elevators and blocked accesses because people can’t get out during a fire.”
There have been some changes. Zimmerman says the hallways are now clear and her son’s apartment is down to 79°F.
Kozachik says the elevators are working again. A smashed window in the Luna lobby has also been replaced.
“People have rights,” said Kozachik. “They have a right to know their children are secure, that they have lights that work, they aren’t dealing with mold, or tripping over trash in the halls. Nelson Properties needs to fix the quality-of-life issues out of respect for their own tenants. These guys are just high rent slumlords and the place is a high rent dive. They need to fix that before they leave town.”
Zimmerman says many students are anxious about the status of Sol Y Luna.
“We have been told by the [University of Arizona] that there is no housing for these kids,” she said. “So, if they get kicked out, there is no place for them to go. That was never our intention. We can’t have change unless we all come together.”
Rent has gone up. Andrea Leib says her son was paying $800 a month for a Luna apartment three years ago. Now, he is paying $1,225 a month.
KOLD News 13 reached out to Nelson Partners Property Management, which owns Sol Y Luna. A spokesperson claims they are “on track to complete repairs on all of the violations.”
We will continue to follow developments.
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