Santa Cruz landlord faces criticism over ‘racist’ flyers

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A Santa Cruz landlord has some residents upset after he passed out flyers many are calling racist and inappropriate. 

The flyers were handed out at a housing event with the message: “Meet Your Neighbors,” along with a photo of what are presumed to be gang members. 

The flyer is in response to a hot-button topic—Measure M,  which would enact rent control.

Darius Mohsenin owns dozens of units in Santa Cruz and is a well-known landlord. 

Jeff Hao with Students United with Renters said, “I’ve heard a lot of stories about like properties that he hasn’t fixed, issues he’s had with tenants before.”

Hoa and other community members believe the flyers Mohsenin passed out were racially insensitive. 

KRON4’s Michelle Kingston spoke with Mohsenin to hear his side. 

He said, “I looked for an image that was of menacing gang members … simply googling on the internet and that particular one was the most menacing.”

Mohsenin says the flyers were in opposition to Measure M, which would prevent a landlord from evicting a tenant who brings in family members, ultimately making them a sub-tenant. 

Measure M supporters see the flyer differently. 

“He was pretty much saying that people who would move to Santa Cruz because of Measure M are gang members and also Latinx,” Hoa says. 

Mohsenin reassures that he is not racist. 

“If anybody were to look at my tenant base and I really don’t want to be asked to go and name every color, ethnic group or religion of my tenants … You’d be really hard to call me a  racist,” he explained.

He admitted that he regrets passing out the flyers and says race was never the intent. 

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