There’s an old adage that all politics is local and there’s nothing more local than city government that really affects neighborhood quality of life. City officials all run for office on the promise of serving constituents but the reality is, it’s much harder to deliver on those requests especially when a raft of other city departments have to fall in line to help get things done, as residents of of both 410 N. Rossmore Ave., and the nearby Larchmont Village neighborhood are finding out.
The residents of 410 North Rossmore are desperately seeking an advocate as they are now being told they must vacate their longtime homes (all the 14 remaining tenants have lived in the building for more than 20 years, some as long as thirty years) by October 31 for an extended period of time – approximately nine months -while the building owner, ESI Ventures, does the repairs to the building outlined in their Tenant Habitability Plan, filed with the City’s housing department. These are the only remaining tenants in the building; all are over the age of 50. We have been writing about ESI’s efforts to empty the 73-unit rent-stabilized building since they purchased it in late 2019.
According to documents shared with the Buzz, the building owner states they are planning to: “Upgrade the power supply by upgrading the transformer. In non-leased units only: upgrade electrical wiring; Remove and replace hot and cold water risers, sewer lines, and drains in all units; Upgrade Ventilation System and shaft in all units and common areas. In non-leased units only: install window AC Units; and Paint exterior of the building and common areas; new roof system; new washers/dryers in the laundry room; new ceiling & lighting in corridors; waterproof parking area; replace front door; landscaping and other related work.”
However, we could not find any recent permits that described that work but we did find permits for similar work that has already been completed.
According to the THP plan, the current remaining tenants have been offered relocation to the Promenade Towers at 123 South Figueroa Street, approximately five miles away, though all of them would prefer to stay in the neighborhood.
“We chose the Promenade Towers because we could get 14 units with three months’ notice,” explained Greg Potikyan, Asset Manager for ESI, the building owner. “We have been working on the Tenant Habitability Plan for several months. We will start construction as soon as the tenants have left the building.” Potikyan told us they are planning to put the renovated units back on the rental market as soon as the work is complete.
“Our office has been working with the tenants at 410 Rossmore to make sure they know their rights, and that the owner is following the letter of the law. Central to that work has been ensuring that there is a sufficient Tenant Habitability Plan in place for tenant relocation while the building is under construction,” said Leo Daube, a spokesman for CD5 Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky. “The THP is designed to help ensure that tenants who are being displaced during construction are relocated to housing that is nearby and comparable to their current units and that they have a right to return after construction is completed. Our office was able to flag this case with the Housing Department, and they are now involved to make sure the THP is detailed and sufficient.”
“LAHD’s approval of the proposed relocation housing is, as always, rubber-stamped,” Lois DeArmond, from the LA Tenants Union Mid City office, told the Buzz. “They do zero investigation to determine whether the units are comparable, or even exist. We have worked with tenants whose THP-proposed units, approved by LAHD, either did not exist at all or were in a cemetery! The proposed units for the 410 tenants are decidedly not comparable to those they occupy now, and the location/neighborhood most certainly is not.”
The tenants have fifteen days to file an appeal but they are not hopeful. They told the Buzz they have filed numerous complaints with the LA Housing Department with no success. The Buzz was there when a senior housing inspector came to the property to inspect conditions and the failure of the company to have a resident manager. The inspector listened to the tenants, then spoke to the building representative, and the complaint was closed without further action. There still is no on-site manager at the property.
The tenants are hoping the involvement of the council office will make a difference and they appreciate that CD5 staffer Field Deputy Michelle Flores has requested a meeting with the department, Unfortunately, the meeting cannot take place until after the deadline to file the appeal.
However, CD5 told us, keeping people housed is a priority for CD5.
“The best way to reduce homelessness in Los Angeles is to make sure people stay housed in the first place,” CD5 spokesman Leo Daube told the Buzz. “And yet, one of our biggest challenges in addressing the homelessness crisis in Council District 5 is the cost of housing.”
In nearby Larchmont Village, part of CD13, residents are calling on Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez to meet with them and help shut down a party house at 300 N. Plymouth. After a few weekends of quiet, there was a huge party at the property over the Labor Day weekend.
According to residents, Last weekend’s party started at 8:30 p.m. and went until 1:30 a.m. with loud noise, trash, traffic in the street, and underage partygoers jumping off the roof of the house into the pool. Hundreds of teens paid an admission fee for the BYOE – bring your own everything – party advertised on social media.
Residents made numerous calls to LAPD citing numerous infractions of the party house ordinance during the party. Parking enforcement officers came but residents declined to have vehicles towed, citing fear of retaliation, so officers ticketed vehicles blocking driveways. The LAPD did not come because local units were occupied elsewhere with a homicide investigation at the time.
Residents told the Buzz they have shared videos and photos of the parties with CD 13, the City Attorney’s office, and LAPD, but no actions have been taken.
Ivor Pine, a spokesman for the City Attorney’s office told the Buzz, “While we’re unable to discuss potential enforcement actions, party houses and their serious impacts to residents nearby and overall neighborhood quality of life are a top priority for the City Attorney.”
Last month we reported that City Attorney Hydee Feldsetin-Soto filed suit against partyhouse operator Nightfall Group and its owner, Mokhtar Jabli, alleging that police have been called more than 250 times in the last two years because of problems at houses that the business rents out in the Hollywood area. Local residents applauded the action and expressed hope that a similar action would be taken against the owner of 300 N. Plymouth.
Residents have asked CD13 staff to set up a meeting with the LAPD and the City Attorney’s office to discuss specific actions that could be taken to shut down the house.
Both neighborhood groups can’t afford to give up. They are hoping that having the council office in their corner will bring acceptable resolutions, sooner rather than later.