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Apartment Residents to Fight Evictions

August 02, 1987|DAVID RISSER | Times Staff Writer

Angry residents of Lincoln Place Apartments in Venice have organized to fight evictions by owners of the 795-unit complex, who say they want to make improvements and increase rents.

"In the face of these unfair evictions, the Lincoln Place Neighbors . . . are seeking to halt the displacement of families for the sake of profits," resident Rachelle Cooper said at a crowded meeting on Wednesday at the Westchester Municipal Center.

The meeting was called by Los Angeles Councilwoman Ruth Galanter in response to complaints by residents.

An official of the city's Rent Stabilization Board said the landlord is acting legally.

'Legal and Permissible'

"It appears to be a legal and permissible action," Barbara Zeidman said. "We see no violation of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance."

Under city law, an owner may declare that he will spend at least $10,000 to rehabilitate a unit, evict residents, then rent the apartment at any price before rent control again takes effect.

City law also requires that relocation money be paid to tenants displaced in this fashion. Residents of an apartment share $1,000 in relocation money, or $2,500 if a senior citizen, handicapped person or dependent child is involved.

Ten eviction notices were mailed on July 17. Keith Sinclair, an owner of the complex, has told the rent board he plans to rehabilitate about 200 units, Zeidman said.

Sinclair said he will apply to the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for federal funds to rehabilitate many of the 200 units. HUD involvement would allow some low-income tenants to return to their apartments at the same rent.

Not a Bad Plan

"This doesn't sound like a bad plan," said Rick Ruiz, a spokesman for Galanter.

Residents, however, fear that the owners will proceed with more evictions.

"These 'rehabilitations' are simply a ploy to decontrol the units," Cooper said.

"I just can't believe they can get away with this," said Maria Johnson, one of the 10 who have been sent eviction notices.

Lincoln Place Neighbors plans to investigate possibilities for legal action and to pressure the City Council to change the city's rent control law. Many residents said the $10,000 rehabilitation minimum should be raised to reflect inflation. It was raised from $5,000, set in 1979, to $10,000 in 1982.

Residents also said the council should give residents who are being evicted more than 30 days to move.

Not Enough Time

"Thirty days is not enough time . . . to find a new place, especially if you have kids," said Francisco J. Romo, whose family has been sent eviction notices.

Marsha Misuis said she has retained a lawyer and will refuse to vacate her apartment when the 30-day period ends.

The apartments, located along Lake Avenue between Penmar Avenue and Frederick Street, were originally built by the federal government in the 1950s to house civilian employees of the Douglas Aircraft Co.

Representatives of U.S. Rep. Mel Levine (D-Los Angeles), Democratic Sen. Alan Cranston and Assemblyman Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica) were also at the meeting.

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