Regarding the appellate court decision (Los Angeles Times, July 20) establishing West Hollywood's right to decide whether an apartment building goes condo, hooray! The landlords are finally getting what they deserve. Consider our situation.
Imagine having your rent raised from the $1,100-$1,200 range to $2,500 (120%-133%) in the space of a month. No, we don't live in Tokyo, nor even New York. We are tenants at 944 Palm Ave., in West Hollywood, and live in one of the growing number of units that were first occupied after July 1, 1979, and are thus exempt from rent control.
Our landlord, Abraham Stein, is blatantly trying to circumvent the city's rent stabilization ordinance that, under Section 6906, says that although we are exempt from rent control, "such units are NOT exempt from the provisions of 6413." 6413 is the eviction section of the ordinance, and, among other things, says that when a landlord takes a rental structure from the rental market, he must pay a relocation fee that cannot be waived by the tenant.
We maintain that a rent that is more than $1,000 above the highest rents in our neighborhood is designed with the clear intent to evict us, since no one could be expected to pay such a rent. Nor would any be expected to move in. He has a foreman on duty in one of the vacant apartments taking bids from contractors, and has given a price of $295,000 to one of the tenants who inquired whether he would get a break if he decided to buy. Stein said no, but if the tenant did without the $15,000 of improvements which were planned for the new condos, he could have it for $280,000.
Six of us testified at a West Hollywood City Council meeting, and the council is considering options on how to help us. Other inquiries by the media, state Sen. Roberti's office, and the recent court decision, no doubt, influenced Stein's lame offer to "buy us out" with $1,000. We are not greedy, but we are determined to get our full relocation benefits of $3,500-$5,500. If need be, we will go to court to test their arrogance, and to pave the way to justice for the other "rent-control exempt" buildings in West Hollywood.