Housing advocates accuse luxury apartment building in DTLA of operating as ‘unpermitted hotel’

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A coalition of Los Angeles affordable housing advocates and labor unions isn’t happy about one of Downtown LA’s newer high-rises.

In a letter to the city’s planning director, Vince Bertoni, they accuse Level Furnished Living, home of LA’s “most expensive” penthouse, of operating as an “unpermitted hotel.” The letter calls upon the planning department to open an investigation.

Located at 888 Olive Street, in Downtown LA’s booming South Park neighborhood, the 35-story tower “combines the style and service of a boutique hotel with the space and comfort of a well-appointed luxury apartment,” according to the developer, Vancouver-based real estate firm Onni Group.

The authors of the letter argue that the project resembles a hotel far more closely than it does a residential development. A determination letter from the planning department in 2013 indicates that the project includes 303 “residential condominiums.”

The building’s website, however, advertises units that are available to rent for as short a time as a single night.

In an emailed statement to Curbed, a representative for Onni Group wrote that Level Furnished Living is operating as an “extended stay apartment building,” a use that is “permitted under the zoning.”

Cheryl Getuiza, a spokesperson for the planning department, did not comment on the letter, but said that extended stay apartments—while not defined under the city’s municipal code—would not be classified as hotel rooms if they have kitchens (all units at Level Furnished Living are equipped with a kitchen).

Onni Group’s representative also wrote that the firm is in the process of obtaining a transient occupancy residential permit from the city, in order to be “abundantly conservative.”

That may not satisfy the authors of the letter to Bertoni, who include the leaders of groups like the Coalition for Economic Survival, Keep Neighborhoods First, and UNITE HERE Local 11.

They argue that the “commercialization of rental housing and even rent-controlled housing in our neighborhoods into illegal hotel units” is worsening a citywide housing shortage that has contributed to rising rental prices and housing costs.

The organizations behind the letter are planning a rally in front of the Level Furnished Living building at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

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