District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced that PS Orangeco, Inc., the owner and operator of Public Storage self-storage rental facilities, agreed to a Stipulated Judgment, approved and ordered by Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Patrick M. Broderick, requiring the corporation to pay $140,000 in civil penalties and costs for violating Penal Code 396’s price gouging restrictions that applied following the October 2017 Northern California wildfires. The Judgment also includes an injunction prohibiting future violations. The civil enforcement action was brought jointly by the District Attorneys of Sonoma, Napa and Solano Counties.
District Attorney Ravitch stated: “This case is part of the ongoing efforts of my office to investigate and prosecute instances of price gouging following the devastating wildfires. Residents are encouraged to report cases of suspected price gouging to my office at http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/District-Attorney or by calling (707) 565-5317.”
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. PS Orangeco 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 should 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.