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Elderly Tenants Sue to Block Evictions, Demolition of Units

April 20, 1986|NANCY GRAHAM | Times Staff Writer

A group of elderly tenants has sued the city of Los Angeles for granting a demolition permit to the owner of their buildings without conducting an environmental impact study.

The suit, filed last week by members of the Hillcrest Manor Tenants Assn., names the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, its director, Frank Kroger, and CoastFed Properties, which owns the 136-unit Hillcrest Manor Apartments in the 9800 and 9900 blocks on the south side of Pico Boulevard in West Los Angeles.

CoastFed is a partnership between developer Alan I. Casden Co. and Coast Savings & Loan Assn.

Ron Rouda, attorney for the tenants, said the lawsuit charges that the city of Los Angeles acted illegally and in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act in granting a demolition permit to CoastFed without conducting an environmental impact assessment and without requiring any mitigation measures, such as ordering the builders to provide senior housing.

The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, asks for an injunction against any eviction of tenants, demolition or construction on the property until an environmental impact report has been prepared or a study done in accordance with requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act.

The former owners of the property, Kates & Konheim and Americana Properties, had agreed to provide housing for seniors when they constructed new buildings.

Tenants received notices last month informing them that CoastFed, which has owned the property for two months, was evicting everybody by May 1. The notices said that the existing structures would be demolished and new apartment units built.

About 40 elderly tenants demonstrated in front of Coast Savings & Loan Assn. on Beverly Drive Wednesday to protest the evictions.

Conditions outlined in an Oct. 18, 1985, Planning Commission decision authorized Kates to build 284 apartments, 60 of which would be for senior citizens.

A spokesman for the Department of Building and Safety refused comment on the suit.

In a prepared statement, Alan I. Casden said that CoastFed has already provided tenants who are 62 or older with $2,500 per apartment as a contribution toward the cost of relocation. Those who are under 62 have been paid $1,000.

Even though CoastFed was not required to do so, he said, it has agreed to pay the tenant of each unit $1,500 upon vacation of the apartment.

Casden said the tenants had all promised the former owners to vacate the apartments by September, 1986.

"The prior owner's intention was to construct luxury condominiums and the plans have been approved by the city of Los Angeles. CoastFed intends to construct a rental apartment building on the site."

Casden said CoastFed intends to ask the city of Los Angeles for financial help in making 20% of those units available to tenants with low or moderate incomes.

"Existing tenants who qualify have been offered the option of moving into these affordable units on completion, the rental of which will be over $200 per month below rentals presently being paid," Casden said.

Rose Waldron, president of the tenants' association, said some of the tenants have lived in the apartments for more than 30 years. Their ages range from the late 60s to one man who is 91. Waldron said the elderly tenants were stunned by the eviction notices and frightened at the prospect of having to look for new places to live.

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