Council to Consider Supporting Tenants Facing Mass Eviction

The Barrington Plaza Tenants Association Filed a Lawsuit Against the Building’s Owner in June

By Zach Armstrong

Santa Monica City councilmembers Caroline Torosis and Jesse Zwick, along with Mayor Gleam Davis, have requested council adopt a resolution in support of tenants at Barrington Plaza who are fighting mass eviction, according to an agenda item. 

The agenda item has been continued to the council’s Oct. 24 meeting, according to a city spokesperson.

The Barrington Plaza Tenants Association filed a lawsuit against the building’s owner, Santa Monica-based Douglas Emmett Inc., in June over eviction efforts which if successful would be the largest Los Angeles mass eviction since the Chavez Ravine ones of the 1950s, according to the agenda item. The 712-unit West Los Angeles complex at 11740 Wilshire Blvd is the third largest apartment complex subject to Los Angeles’ Rent Stabilization Ordinance. 

“This mass eviction of over 522 occupied units, and the subsequent removal of these units from the rental market will exacerbate market pressures for new rental units, inevitably placing upward pressure on rent prices in Santa Monica.” stated the agenda item and resolution. “This looming eviction is especially concerning for renters in Santa Monica, where Douglas Emmett, Inc. owns several large residential properties.”

Douglas Emmet, who is invoking California’s Ellis Act, argues that these evictions are needed for building upgrades such as installing fire sprinklers. The resolution from the councilmembers states that jurisdictions have limited capacity to prevent fraudulent uses of the act and sham evictions associated with it. The Coalition for Economic Survival was cited as finding, since 2001, the law has been used to evict 29,467 units in Los Angeles. 

In August, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant denied a request by the tenants to stop the evictions saying that the landlord’s harm is rooted in financial impacts from eviction and renovation delays, ABC7 reported. One tenant told the local outlet she believes Douglas Emmet will temporarily go out of business only to return with substantially higher rents.

As part of the resolution, the City Council would implore Douglas Emmett not to evict the tenants and use Los Angeles’ tenant habitability program for necessary repairs while temporarily relocating tenants.

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