Residents of Beverly Glen Boulevard in West Los Angeles are at an impasse with a developer and city officials over two vacant apartment buildings that one neighbor called "a blight on the neighborhood and a motel for the homeless."
The property owner, Stan Dorn, wants to demolish the apartments to build condominiums, but city officials say he has failed to follow proper procedure to tear down the dilapidated units.
Dorn said the apartments at 2017 to 2025 S. Beverly Glen Blvd. are "old, old structures ridden with termites."
Dottie O'Carroll, who lives next door, said "the buildings look like they belong in the worst slum. . . ."
Used by Transients
O'Carroll said transients have found their way past a chain-link fence into the vacant apartments, whose tenants were evicted earlier this year. The inside walls are spray-painted with graffiti and the floors are littered with trash.
Police have been called repeatedly because the drifters occupy the buildings at night and hold noisy, drunken parties, she said.
"The buildings are a fire hazard because of the trash and living conditions of the occupants, and they are a health hazard because of the human waste and discards left there," she said. Residents are "paralyzed with fear" because of the transients, she said.
Appeals by Residents
Residents have appealed to city officials to allow demolition of the apartment buildings, but the owner will have to await approval of a tentative tract map before he can obtain a demolition permit, according to Gary Morris of the Planning Department.
Morris said he has never encountered a situation in which an owner has evicted tenants before his tract map, which is a specific building plan, was approved by the city.
The city building code allows the demolition of apartments either upon approval of the building plan or when an owner signs an affidavit agreeing not to develop condominiums on the site for 10 years, Morris said. The affidavit is part of a law enacted in 1980 during an epidemic of condominium construction that was threatening the city's supply of rental housing, officials said.
Barbara Zeidman, director of the city's rent stabilization program, said most owners who want to tear down apartments and build condominiums seek approval of a building plan first. Once that is approved and moving expenses are paid to evicted tenants, the owner can obtain a demolition permit, she said.
But Dorn, she said, did it backwards, evicting tenants first and then seeking a tentative tract map and demolition permit.
Because Dorn "substantially complied" with the law by paying tenants $1,000 to $2,500 each for moving expenses, Zeidman said, the city will process his application as quickly as possible.
But the city cannot waive legal requirements for the project, such as a 30-day notice of public hearing, she said. "Ignorance of the law is no excuse," she said.
Meanwhile, O'Carroll said, residents who live next to the deteriorating apartments are frustrated at the impasse.
"As neighbors (we) cannot protect ourselves by hiring private security (because) a private company is not allowed to trespass on this property," she said. Residents have been unable to find a way to protect themselves, she said.