DECEMBER 2019/JANUARY 2020
Welcome to the eleventh issue of The Tenant! Each issue features updates from LATU locals about recent goings-on in their neighborhood. We hope this will foster solidarity and communication across LATU citywide. If you’d like your local represented in the next issue, please send a 100-word blurb describing what you’ve been up to for the past month as a local to firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Los Angeles Tenants Union media committee
POLICY AND LEGISLATION
Within the last few months of 2019 unscrupulous landlords attempted to evict non-RSO tenants and raise rents before the new State law, the Tenants Protection Act of 2019, AB 1482, takes effect. Thanks to pressure from tenants, LA was the first city in California to pass the emergency ordinance and introduce a Renters Relief Program that provides rental assistance. The new state law becomes effective January 1, 2020. Once it does, rents cannot be increased more than 8%; the rent a landlord charges will have to revert back to what the rent was on March 15, 2019, plus 8%; and evictions are limited by a just-cause provision. If your landlord does not abide by the new State law, please file a complaint with HCIDLA and organize with your neighbours!
The Hollywood Local kicked off Days of Rage 2019 protesting at the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade on Sunday, December 1. Gathering a few feet away from the 1719–1731 Whitley Avenue apartments, LATU members held a massive banner along Hollywood Boulevard bearing the landlord’s name, “Fari Moshfegh, Slumlord!” Days before the protest, Moshfegh handed out Ellis Act eviction notices in a latest attempt to remove tenants and build a ten-story luxury hotel. The protest also gave LATU members the chance to chant, “Homes Not Hotels,” while Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell and David Ryu passed by as part of the parade. When Garcetti attempted to shout back, “I’m with you!” protesters responded, “No you’re not!” Two weeks after the action, the Whitley Ave tenants received word that the evictions had been cancelled due to Moshfegh’s insufficient funds for the tenant relocation fees. The news was a welcomed holiday present to the tenants and a reminder that they should NOT move out just because Fari “Slumlord” Moshfegh makes noise.
Days of Rage culminated with a march to STOP ALL EVICTIONS, REVOKE THE ELLIS ACT, and END GENTRIFICATION, organized by VyBe. Against the backdrop of downtown skyscrapers, the Echo Park Lake and about two dozen deflated tents from our unhoused neighbors — a view that was a confluence of abundance and need — tenants marched on the streets with banners and a funeral procession to the district offices of State Representative Maria Elena Durazo, Assembly member Wendy Carrillo, and local Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell. We went to ask our government representatives for a public declaration to stand with tenants to repeal the Ellis Act. Several tenants from six rent-stabilized buildings being Ellis-evicted by developer TriWest will become homeless, and this is a death sentence for elderly renters like Don Mario, who is in his late 70s. When the moment came to stand with tenants in public, State Rep Durazo provided a statement immediately in favor of full repeal, Assembly member Carrillo declined to comment, and Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell hid.
During the holiday season, the East Hollywood Local and the Hollywood Local participated in a community event hosted by the Hollywood Studios District Neighborhood Council at the Lemon Grove Rec Center. There was free food, drinks, a toy giveaway and live entertainment for everyone. Over 100 families attended the event and we were able to share the work we do in the LA Tenants Union. We met eager neighbors that were excited to hear about the tenant movement across the city. All in all, it was a beautiful experience we shared with families and friends from East Hollywood.
On November 9, 2019 at Templo La Hermosa, we formed the Canoga Park Local. At our December meeting, we introduced ourselves to the residents of the area. Since then, our members have flyered at the local supermarket and library, and done outreach along the frequently trafficked areas of Sherman Way, and the intersection of Saticoy and Topanga Canyon.
NELo continues to support long-term members undergoing eviction battles, and is taking on new organizing efforts, including a 100-unit public housing project slated for a public-private “revitalization.” Our Days of Rage action was fierce, as LATU members old and new took back the streets with their Northeast LA neighbours, marching along Figueroa and chanting “vulture landlords, get a real job,” and “no gentrification on stolen land.” We stopped by Councilmember Gil Cedillo’s office to shame him for welcoming market-rate development into the neighbourhood, and chanted outside the real estate businesses that perpetuate the displacement of working class community members.
UNIÓN DE VECINOS — EAST SIDE
Our local hosted December’s general meeting, focusing on the different types of harassment working tenants face from their corporate landlords and how tenants are fighting back. Our Days of Rage action also highlighted tenant harassment and put pressure on our elected officials to pass the anti-tenant harassment ordinance that LATU had helped introduce over two years ago. We protested in front of councilmember Jose Huizar’s office and in front of the HCID office in Boyle Heights. The protest and march brought out over 75 community union members. We stormed the HCID offices, where a committee of LATU members met with officials while the rest of the group marched toward Jose Huizar’s house. Our annual posada was a success, bringing attention to gentrification and the housing crisis.
BLC (BALDWIN HILLS, LEIMERT PARK, CRENSHAW)
Our local has been concentrating our efforts on current tenant cases and acquiring new ones. We’ve been encouraging tenants to file complaints with the health department, building and safety, the housing department and the housing authority for those on section 8. There’s been an increase in filings from tenants due to our encouragement, and we’ve made it a priority to be present during inspections. We have taken the front seat in documenting incidents of manager and landlord harassment, and given several civil attorney referrals. * In joint efforts with the South Central Local, we have had two additional barbecues with Dorset Village tenants. We’ve earned the tenants’ trust by having our members present for all city inspections of the 196 Dorset Village units.
For Days of Rage, our local protested in the pouring rain outside the office of eviction lawyer Dennis Block in Valley Village. Many people showed up, including the press and tenants who gave testimonies. Dennis Block has been known to brag about having evicted more tenants than any lawyer in the world, but he was clearly scared of us because he refused to come out and had security guards and police outside his building. * All the Gilmore St. tenants won their eviction cases against their landlord Jeff Greene! * We are currently helping Woodman Ave. tenants form a tenants’ association to fight illegal 60-day notices and take affirmative action against the landlord.