Napa County District Attorney Allison Haley announced that PS Orangeco, Inc., the owner and operator of Public Storage self-storage rental facilities, agreed to pay $140,000 in civil penalties and costs for price gouging following the October 2017 Northern California wildfires.
The action was brought jointly by the district attorneys of Napa, Sonoma, and Solano counties. Public Storage operates a facility at 1775 Industrial Way in Napa.
PS Orangeco cooperated in the investigation and resolution of this matter, the Napa District Attorney’s Office said in a news release. 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.
When an emergency is declared, this law prohibits raising the price of many consumer goods and services – including food and drink, emergency supplies, rental housing, building materials, gasoline, transportation, and storage services—by more than 10% of the price charged immediately prior to the emergency declaration.
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.
“This case is part of the ongoing efforts of our office to investigate and prosecute instances of price gouging following the devastating wildfires,” said Deputy District Attorney Patrick Collins, who handled the case for Napa County.
Residents are encouraged to report cases of suspected price gouging to email@example.com or by calling (707) 253-4059.
Businesses should be aware that the restrictions under Penal Code section 396 remain in effect through Dec. 31 by executive order of the governor. That deadline may be extended by further order of the governor or by local government agencies.