Have No Faith: The City Doesn't Give a #$%! About RSO Renters

C.C. de Vere

C.C. de Vere

· 4 min read
Stires Staircase Bungalow Court, ten small bungalows in two rows facing a narrow courtyard, with severely pruned mature trees and a wide lawn. Image courtesy of Silver Lake Heritage.

The good people at Silver Lake Heritage Trust are doing everything they can to protect ten badly needed RSO units perched above Sunset Boulevard.

The Stires Staircase Bungalow Court, like other bungalow courts still standing today (there used to be far, far more of them), has provided affordable housing with a combination of privacy and community for generations of lower-income renters.

The owner wants to replace ten rent-stabilized bungalows with 70 units...which is a problem because only six will be set aside for very low-income households. That's a net loss of four low-income units. It also goes against the city's General Plan and Elements. Even with right of return, some of the displaced tenants will not be able to afford the proposed complex.

The owner is trying to get TOC variances. A net loss of RSO units, by definition, does not meet TOC requirements. The city doesn't seem to care.

The owner also intends to supply only 38 parking spaces for 70 units, some of which are likely to have more than one occupant, in a section of Echo Park that already has parking challenges. (As a former property manager who has lived in the parking-challenged cities of Long Beach and Santa Monica, this is a VERY BAD IDEA. When there are too many cars and not enough spaces, people fight over parking spaces, block each other in, steal assigned spaces, and when angered enough, might even vandalize someone else's car. Taking mass transit or bicycling everywhere works for some people, but not for everyone - especially given the state of LA's transit system and the state of what little bike infrastructure it has.)

Today's LA Times included a timely op-ed from Maria Patiño Gutierrez, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Equitable Development and Land Use at SAJE. Patiño Gutierrez points out that some proposed developments will take away badly needed existing affordable units, which displaces tenants who may be unable to afford anything else. (She also mentions that displaced tenants receive next to no support.) While she specifically mentions proposed developments in South LA, it's a city-wide problem.

Taking away what little housing there still is for low-income Angelenos is not the answer. It's robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Build on a parking lot (this is coming from someone who is creeped out by parking garages). Build above a strip mall. Replace an abandoned and empty motel with new apartments. But don't displace the city's most vulnerable renters.

Oh, and it gets worse.

Paperwork for the proposed project fails to disclose that ten RSO units would be lost, that the city has the parcel classified as a methane hazard site, or that the property owner is trying to Ellis Act the tenants.

If the owner gets his way, the property will (assuming compliance with Ellis Act requirements) also be left empty for years. Where are the displaced tenants supposed to go?

The owner's lawyer wrote a letter alleging that the six proposed affordable units would now be 14 affordable units. However, the client he claims to represent appears to have a similar, but different, name from the owner's company (see below). Sounds like a bait and switch to me!

There's also the methane issue. The project will require excavation of the existing hillside, which may very well release methane deposits from geologic formations. In fact, the owner/resident of a neighboring property consulted with geologists. The Planning Department seems unconcerned.

The city will rubber-stamp virtually anything a developer wants, regardless of how it affects rank-and-file Angelenos. There are far too many other issues with the project to unpack here, but all the dirt is listed in SLHT's Petition for Writ of Mandate.

Oh, by the way, the owner has a history of being prosecuted for wage theft by the City Attorney. (Here you go. Here's another case for breach of contract.)

1251-1259 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park.

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C.C. de Vere

About C.C. de Vere

C.C. is a fourth-generation Angeleno and is horrified at what greed and hubris are doing to Los Angeles.

This website was built by her preservation pals at Esotouric.

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