In warehouse crackdown, LA says it wants to protect tenants

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The Los Angeles Times has the first look at what an “aggressive” crackdown on warehouses illegally converted into housing and hubs for artists in LA might look like.

Spurred into action by the deadly Oakland warehouse fire, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer met recently with city officials to talk enforcement options. He told the Times the details are still being worked out, but new rules would target property owners—not tenants.

According to the Times, city officials want to make sure tenants are notified when a building is in violation of building and safety codes and that property owners are “responsible for relocating unlawful residents.” The newspaper indicates that might include paying for relocating tenants.

Artists have feared increased scrutiny and regulations designed to protect tenants in alternative venues will backfire by leading, for example, to increased rents.

In the one of the priciest cities in the country and in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, LA artists have found safe havens in places such as Lucky Cat Lab, which the San Jose Mercury News describes as an East Los Angeles foundry turned work space for artists who pay $400 to $800 per month. Its founder, Liana Bandziulis, a 25-year-old photographer, told the Mercury News she’s worried officials will overreach.

“I just really hope that people in my position take a good long look at their buildings and deal with it, and I hope that legislators not only enforce regulations, but ask, why did this happen?” Bandziulis told the Mercury News. “Maybe we’re missing rules, but we’re also missing support.”

Echo Park Records owner Alexis Rivera told KPCC that Los Angeles should follow Oakland’s lead. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has pledged $1.7 million to housing for artists. Some of that money will be used to purchase new properties that will be leased below market rates to local artists, according to SF Gate.

“The arts are at the center of vibrant and diverse communities, and are critical to neighborhood health and well-being, yet artists and cultural organizations are increasingly vulnerable to instability and displacement,” Schaaf said in a statement.

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