Welcome to the seventh 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
San Fernando Valley Local
We had our first rent strike rally for the Gilmore St. tenants in North Hollywood on June 19th. It was a great action! Members from four other locals came out in solidarity and five different news outlets also showed up. We marched to the nearest major street (Lankershim Blvd.) and back. Thirteen units are still on rent strike and some have signed on with a lawyer (Noel Weiss). Some tenants from another Gilmore St. building owned by the same landlord (Jeff Greene) heard about our action and are now eager to begin their own rent strike.
South Central Local
The South Central Local continues our fight against slumlord Ken Wong! We’ve outreached to buildings across South Central, Compton and Paramount — most in slum conditions — where tenants continue to receive rent hikes as high as $600. The 82nd St. Tenants have begun to fight back, forming a Tenant Association, filing complaints with the city, and sending a letter of demands. We’ve also begun working jointly with the BLC Local to outreach Dorset Village, a historic 194-unit garden complex near the future Hyde Park stop on the Crenshaw line, set to be demolished by Billionaire Jeff Greene. Dorset Tenants have attended two local meetings, sharing stories of habitability issues and harassment. They’ve decided to organize, planning a day of door knocking before a first onsite meeting. Greene’s plans to evict Black and Lantinx tenants to build 7-story market-rate towers and a yoga studio appear to rely on both the Ellis Act and the Transit Oriented Communities Initiative. We’ve been studying up on both as we gear up for this fight. We also recently joined the SFV Local in an action supporting rent striking tenants in another Jeff Greene building in North Hollywood. Finally, members of the South Central local have been attending Case Worker trainings, and look forward to bringing what we’ve learned back to our local!
There are two new tenants associations in Hollywood. Residents of the five-unit bungalow court at 1770 Las Palmas Ave have for years contended with landlord negligence and periodic threats of demolition. Nearby, tenants in the 55-unit Julie Lee Apartments have endured daily harassment due to unpermitted renovations from the notorious Slate Property Group in NY, but their newly formed TA has now forced a work-stoppage order from the Health Department due to airborne lead particles. Finally, our Local said farewell to long-time members Lazaro and Blanca Villatoro, who will be moving to Riverside, unable to find suitable housing in Hollywood after a long fight against Ellis evictions from 1749 Las Palmas Ave in the face of years of egregious code violations. Nearly every household from 1749 Las Palmas Ave has left Hollywood. We wish Lazaro, Blanca, and their family the very best. La lucha continúa!
Union de Vecinos Eastside Local
The Limon family, Boyle Heights residents since 1926, is fighting against their Ellis Act eviction by White Memorial Hospital due to its expansion plans. The family and LATU members walked in to White Memorial in late June to demand negotiations, but got ignored. The hospital representative used the “talk to my lawyer” line. New efforts and tactics are brewing under our collective thinking cap. Oso-Sanchez family in Boyle Heights is facing an Ellis Act eviction as well, by a big ass arts-oriented developer Mark Borman. Pico Gardens public housing residents and members of UDV-Eastside Local submitted comments before July 9th to voice their opposition to a Trump policy proposal that would evict families if one of the members is undocumented. Michigan Heights residents at an investment firm-owned apartment, The Basco Group, are fighting back their greedy landlord. The building’s owner has begun charging residents for hot water and refuses to follow through on repairs. The residents, a total of 12 units, have formed a tenant association to fight back! The tenant association of Chicago Street has claimed a victory! Nora Mundo, their landlord has dropped an eviction lawsuit due to realizing they could not win. The Chicago T.A. is preparing for negotiations to sign an agreement with the landlord to put an end to harassment, intimidation, and to make repairs happen on the property.
Boyle Heights Rising Up! Action on July 16th marked the first mobilization of grassroots tenant power by the newly merged Union de Vecinos Eastside Local. More than 50 Boyle Heights tenants and supporters gathered in front of the offices of councilman Jose Huizar and the City housing department to protest their inexcusable inaction in the face of rampant evictions, displacement and gentrification in Boyle Heights.
AB 1482, the Anti-Rent Gouging Bill, sponsored by Asm. David Chiu of San Francisco, kicked off the 2019 legislative session along with two other bills, AB 36 that would amend Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act to expand rent control, and AB 1481 that would provide “just cause” provisions so tenants could not be evicted unless the landlord could cite “just cause.” The bill AB 1482 was proposed with good intentions for California tenants….a 5% cap on rent increases plus CPI (the Consumer Price Index which could vary around 1–2% annually). AB 1482 seemed like a good way to prevent the enormous rent increases we are seeing in non-rent controlled buildings. There was even a moment when the Just Cause bill, AB 1481, which was destined for the dustbin due to pressure from the real estate lobby and apartment association, may have been joined to this bill to prevent no-fault evictions in non-rent controlled buildings, however portions of it were added in the form of protection from discriminatory and retaliatory evictions. As AB 1482 wound its way through the obstacle course of Assembly committees, its tenant protection provisions were chipped away. The same culprits who pressured the demise of AB 36 rent control and AB 1481 just cause threatened to kill AB 1482 if it wasn’t amended. After having passed the Assembly the bill is now a 7% rent cap plus CPI with a 3 year sunset clause, meaning it will expire in 3 years, and the just cause provisions cover protection from discriminatory and retaliatory evictions.