Saint John's Hospital and Health Center has applied to the Santa Monica Rent Control Board for a permit to relocate 31 rental units on its property despite an informal agreement with a neighborhood organization that it would maintain housing in the area.
The hospital, at 1328 22nd St. between Arizona Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard, is seeking to move the units to sites elsewhere in the city, according to Thomas Pyne, special assistant to the hospital president.
Pyne said Saint John's plans to use the land next to the hospital for expansion.
The plans ignore an informal agreement that Saint John's and Mid City Neighbors negotiated in 1984 in which Saint John's said it would avoid expansion in the residential area north of Santa Monica Boulevard, said Mid City Neighbors negotiator Jessica Friedman.
"We feel betrayed. We thought we had a firm agreement worked out with (the hospital)," she said.
The plans also have angered some tenants who say the proposed relocation site is next to a commercial zone where Kramer Motors Inc. plans to relocate a car dealership, according to William Weingarden of Mid City Neighbors.
Members of Mid City Neighbors and the tenants have banded together to find an alternative to the proposed relocation, which is scheduled to be considered by the city Rent Control Board in mid-December, Weingarden said.
The permit, which the hospital filed in July, was originally scheduled to go before the Rent Control Board this month. The hospital sought a postponement so that it could discuss the application with its tenants, Pyne said.
According to the 1984 informal agreement, the hospital was going to relocate 26 rental units that are currently situated on five lots on 23rd Street so that it could build a parking structure, Friedman and Weingarden said. They said the units were supposed to be moved to a hospital-owned site at Arizona Avenue and 22nd Street. In return, Mid City Neighbors agreed to support the hospital's plans to construct a five-story medical office building on 20th Street, according to Michael Tabret, Mid City Neighbors director.
Those plans were incorporated into the hospital's 15-year master plan and approved by its board of directors last year.
But Saint John's changed its plans after the Rent Control Board in December, 1984, granted Santa Monica Hospital, 1225 15th St., a permit to relocate 33 rental to make way for hospital expansion, Pyne said.
Saint John's officials decided to relocate the units to 18th and 19th streets and use the lots near the hospital for commercial development, Pyne said.
"The property's strategic placement to the health center makes it likely that (the lots at Arizona and 22nd street) will be considered for health center administrative offices," Pyne said.
The only other time the Rent Control Board has allowed a similar relocation has been in the Santa Monica Hospital case. Santa Monica Hospital's units were vacant; 15 of Saint John's are occupied, Weingarden said.
Saint John's is confident that the application meets the requirements of rent control, Pyne said.
The hospital also plans to build four units behind a single-family house on 22nd Street and to demolish five vacant units on 19th Street and and two units on 21st Street.
Renters have organized since learning of the new plans, according to tenant Zora Alderfer who said they have met with the board of directors of Community Corp. of Santa Monica to request its support in changing the hospital's plans, Alderfer said.
Community Corp. was to take over the buildings after they were relocated, Pyne said.
Community Corp. board of directors member Kenneth Genser said they will work with the tenants, the hospital and Mid City Neighbors to reach a solution that meets everyone's needs.
Pyne said the hospital is willing to negotiate with tenants if they propose reasonable alternatives.