To Margaret Pettenger, the issue is one of respect: As long as residents of The Willows senior apartment complex, which she manages, disrespect her employees, she’ll withhold their Wednesday morning doughnuts and monthly birthday parties.
To some of the complex’s residents, it’s a matter of preserving some longstanding traditions at the 16-year-old building, traditions that help some residents cope with loneliness.
Other residents say The Willows is about the best place in town for seniors.
“I can think of worse things to be upset about in life than a doughnut and a birthday party,” Pettenger said Friday when contacted about the dispute. “We owe them a roof over their head and we owe them the beautiful building we create.
“If you’re not happy here, then go.”
Located on Valley Street just south of Lyons Avenue, The Willows is a three-story stucco building with about 80 units, a swimming pool and attractive gardens. The interior features a spacious first-floor recreation room and spotless kitchen.
About two months ago the apartment manager, who has been at The Willows for about five years, yanked birthday parties honoring those born in a particular month, along with Wednesday morning coffee and doughnuts that were offered in conjunction with Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center activities.
She said residents had shown disrespect to some of her employees but declined to say exactly what had been done.
One resident said someone had left an anonymous letter of complaint on her apartment door.
Pettenger, in return, fired back a scathing letter that was distributed to all the tenants. “It takes one person to ruin it for everyone,” she wrote. “So until further notice my staff and I are going to cancel the birthday party and doughnuts on Wednesday.”
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