Los Angeles city officials and downtown developers who evicted or harassed about 100 low-income residents of the Alexandria Hotel must pay almost $1 million to house and compensate the victims under a settlement announced Thursday.
The agreement followed a December 2007 lawsuit by 10 longtime residents of the once-elegant hotel at Fifth and Spring streets and a federal judge's order last year that the city and its Community Redevelopment Agency locate and assist the displaced -- and potentially homeless.
The lawsuit -- filed against hotel owner Ruben Islas and his Amerland Group development firm, Logan Property Management, the city and the CRA -- alleged that the defendants "systematically and intentionally worked to remove the long-term tenants of the Alexandria and replace them with non-elderly, non-disabled and non-African American tenants."
Under the settlement, the defendants must provide $400,000 for those kicked out of the hotel, ostensibly to allow for renovations, or subjected to power, water and elevator cutoffs aimed at driving them out.
An additional $550,000 in damages was agreed for the 10 named plaintiffs and their attorneys.
Hilda Quintana, 72, who has lived in two rooms of the historic hotel for more than a quarter of a century, was one of the 10 who fought to stay.
"They tried everything. It was ugly at first, with this one woman putting padlocks on the doors. But being an Indian, I don't give up easy," said Quintana, who continued to pay her $600 monthly rent despite the conditions.
"The settlement goes beyond the Alexandria because within the agreement are changes to Community Redevelopment Agency policies on in-place rehabilitation," said Barbara Schultz, senior attorney with Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.
She said the provisions ensure that "the Alexandria situation doesn't recur" in downtown's ever-shrinking affordable-housing market.