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Residents at Park Labrea Divided Over Survey

July 09, 1987|MATHIS CHAZANOV | Times Staff Writer

Leon N. Kazdin says his neighbors are up in arms about a survey asking residents of the mammoth Park Labrea apartment complex about their health, their income and how many cars they own.

The survey, which was mailed last week to the estimated 10,000 tenants by the firm that manages the apartment complex, asked residents to list their names, sex and marital status and to indicate how long they have lived at Park Labrea. People were also asked the make, model and license number of each motor vehicle they owned.

"If they (the residents) had ammunition, they'd let them (those responsible for the survey) have it," he said Tuesday. "It's a very unhappy situation, and for more than one reason. They (residents) wouldn't mind disclosing the incomes so much, but they (the management firm) are charging $5 more a month for parking and the people don't like it."

Answers Confidential

In a cover letter, general manager Francis G. Heavey reminded tenants that similar questions were asked when they moved in.

He promised that answers will be kept confidential, and said Forest City Enterprises, the development firm that owns 2,802 of the 4,198 apartment units at Park Labrea and manages the entire complex, needed the information to improve parking arrangements and help arrange for emergency assistance.

But many residents at the 175-acre complex south of 3rd Street near La Brea Boulevard said they were taken aback by the survey.

"I filled it out and sent it back, but on consideration, I think I made a mistake," said resident Joseph Grodsky. "Perhaps I should have lied a little."

Others took it in stride. "It was nothing more than what they got when people moved in," said Rhoda Conrad. "It was a broad questionnaire and I was not offended."

Grodsky, who prepares income tax returns for elderly residents of Park Labrea, said many of his acquaintances were concerned that management might be trying to "build up a case that everyone here is prosperous and there's no need for rent control."

But Joan Kraden, a spokeswoman for Forest City, said the company had no intention of changing the status quo.

'Not Mandatory'

"We're much better off with long-term, stable tenants," she said. In any case, she added, Park Labrea has at least 160 empty units at any time. Under the city's rent stabilization ordinance, property owners are free to raise rents to market levels for new tenants.

She said the main purpose of the survey was to get a better idea of who lives at the complex, which was begun in the 1930s and completed in 1954 after a break during World War II.

"This was not mandatory," she said. "We think there's a new tenant mix there and because we're relatively new as part-owners and managers, we're trying to update the files. There's nothing sinister about it."

Kraden said her office has received 30 phone calls from tenants upset about the survey. By contrast, several hundred completed questionnaires have already come in, she said.

"The written responses are overwhelmingly positive," she said. "Generally people think the place is well-managed and a good place to live."

As for the increased parking fees, a Park Labrea official said it was required to cover increased expenses for taxes, insurance and other costs.

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