It’s no secret that Los Angeles has a severe shortage of housing. Currently, it’s driving up rents and causing many residents to consider moving to some surprising places. In the past, members of the LA City Council have been outspoken about the need to build (or at least maintain) a supply of affordable housing units within the city.
That’s why tenant advocates were dismayed this week when the council decided to move forward with a project that will replace an apartment building on Cherokee Avenue in Hollywood with a new hotel—a type of establishment the neighborhood isn’t exactly short on lately.
Adding insult to injury, the building scheduled for demolition was under rent control, and many residents had lived there for years. The building was vacated three years ago under the terms of the Ellis Act, which allows landlords to mass-evict tenants from rent-controlled buildings in certain cases where the owner is planning to sell or redevelop the property.
In this instance, landlord David Lesser initially planned to construct condominiums on the site of the apartment, but changed his mind after residents of the apartment had already been evicted. That’s a problem, reports the LA Times, because the condo plan qualified him for an exemption that allowed him to skip paying mandatory relocation fees to the building’s tenants. Only about half the building’s residents received those fees.
Councilmember Gil Cedillo reportedly called the proceedings a “gross miscarriage of justice,” yet the council rejected an appeal from activists who sought to halt the hotel project in favor of preserving badly-needed housing units. Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, who represents the district the building lies within, is apparently not a fan of the project, but didn’t see any grounds for halting it.
Meanwhile, rent-controlled buildings are becoming something of an endangered species in Hollywood. Nearby the Cherokee Ave apartment building, the Yucca-Argyle apartments are also scheduled for demolition. Replacing them will be a mixed-use complex with 191 units of housing. That’s not bad, but, as LA Weekly reports, only 39 will be designated affordable.