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A self storage company was ordered to pay $140,000 in civil penalties and costs for violating price gouging restrictions applied following the October 2017 Northern California wildfires.
The company, PS Orangeco, Inc., is the owner and operator of Public Storage self storage facilities throughout the effected California area.
"This case is part of the ongoing efforts of my office to investigate and prosecute instances of price gouging following the devastating wild fires" stated District Attorney Jill Ravitch.
California law prohibits raising the price of many goods and services — including food, emergency supplies, rental housing and storage services — by more than 10% of pre-disaster pricing during a declared state of emergency.
PS Orangeco, Inc. cooperated in the investigation and resolution of this matter. The complaint alleged that PS Orangeco violated Penal Code section 396 in connection with the sale or offer for sale of storage services during the period covered by a declaration of emergency following the 2017 wildfires. The company issued full refunds of the amounts charged in excess of 10 percent of the price it charged immediately prior to the wildfires, plus an additional $10 courtesy credit, to all customers affected in the three counties. Any customer who believes they were overcharged and did not receive their refund and courtesy credit is directed to contact Public Storage or the District Attorney’s Office.
Businesses should be aware that the restrictions under Penal Code 396 currently remain in effect through December 31, 2019 by Executive Order of the Governor. That deadline may be extended by further order of the Governor or by local government agencies.
Deputy District Attorney Matt Cheever handled the prosecution of this matter.