Welcome to the fifth issue of The Tenant! Each issue of The Tenant will feature updates from LATU locals about recent goings-on in their neighborhood. We hope this will foster solidarity and communication across LATU citywide. We would appreciate any feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Los Angeles Tenants Union media committee
Many LA Tenants Union locals voted to oppose Senate Bill 50, Senator Scott Wiener’s upzoning bill. SB50 proposes to upzone parcels adjacent to transit and to “job rich zones” state-wide, triggering accelerated development and displacement along these corridors. The bill does not provide adequate housing affordability requirements and few protections for existing tenants of areas subject to upzoning. The Anti-Tenant Harassment Ordinance passed out of committee with protections for all tenants on May 8th, following forty-four public comments in support! The main focus of the meeting was to hear HCID’s amended report and to have councilmembers determine if both RSO and non-RSO tenants would be covered under the ordinance. Councilmembers were considering covering only RSO tenants for cost reasons, but — swayed by the public support — they decided that tenants would be covered with support from HCID for complaints, investigation and mediation. All tenants will be able to use the ordinance as a defense in UDs and in private civil actions.
Sustainability is in the process of automating profit and loss statements for each local. These statements will be sent out on a bi-weekly basis so that locals know how much they are making in membership dues and donations, and what they’ve spent in expenses. Additionally, locals can soon expect to know who their active dues-paying members are on a more regular basis as we begin generating reports that will allow members to see whether they’re up to date on their dues. Lastly, the committee wants to remind locals to send any reimbursement requests they have to email@example.com.
The local continues our outreach to buildings owned by notorious slumlord Ken Wong, and we recently supported an action at his mansion led by NELo’s Cinco Puntos Tenants. We’re looking forward to working with comrades from NELo and VyBe on a campaign to unite Ken Wong tenants across the city. We also held a commencement-themed action at USC in support of the Expo Tenants, who were displaced last year to make way for student housing.
NORTHEAST LA (NELO)
The Inquilinos Unidos de los Cinco Puntos held another action at their landlord, Ken Wong’s house. The action centered the youngest tenants of the building as those that are hardest hit by displacement. Children read and delivered the letters that they had written to Wong, demanding that he negotiate with the tenants association so that their community may stay together. Avenue 64’s Rosemary continues to fight an eviction based on falsified documents filed by her landlord, Interstate Equities Corporation. She is asking that folks call Julia Boyd Corso and Marshall Boyd and politely but firmly ask that they drop the eviction at 650–917–8600. Julia’s extension is 7011 and Marshall’s is 7007. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
VERMONT Y BEVERLY (VYBE)
VyBe hosted the May LATU general meeting where two National Lawyers Guild attorneys gave a presentation on our legal rights during actions. At the general meeting, we also brainstormed tactics for battling the growing problem of Tenants In Common (more like Displacers in Common!). The Mariposa tenants are continuing outreach to their neighbors to unite and form a tenants association. Hillside Villa Tenants Association is currently in negotiation with the landlord to keep the building affordable for the tenants — the pressure our direct actions have put on the landlord and on Councilmember Gil Cedillo is working!
The Hollywood Local has long protested the way landlords use the threat of Ellis Act evictions to justify failures in keeping units habitable. This is exactly the situation at 1719–1731 Whitley Ave in Hollywood, whose owner plans to demolish the 32-unit rent-controlled apartment complex and develop a luxury party hotel. The owner has refused to make repairs or secure legal permits on the repairs he has made. HCID inspectors and code enforcement hearing officers have notoriously given slumlords a pass by failing to report code violations and failing to enforce the law when an Ellis eviction has been threatened, whether or not it has been officially approved. On May 6, HCID Hearing Officer Brown sided with Whitley tenants. Giving the landlord 30 days to correct all 178 code violations, Brown stated for the record, “The Ellis Act should not be approved when there are major code violations on the property.” We agree!
With an important final Ellis Act eviction deadline approaching in June, we have been holding actions in support of the Sánchez family at the home of their landlord Tyler Wilson, and at his Venice restaurant, Wurstküche. We are using many different avenues to fight for Patricia’s home, including a petition at tinyurl.com/letpatriciastay to show Tyler that the community does NOT support his predatory eviction of her and her family. More actions to follow!