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New Owners of Hollywood's Historic Villa Carlotta Just Gave All Tenants Christmas Week Evictions

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For Christmas, the owners of the lovely and historic Villa Carlotta apartments in Franklin Village have given their tenants eviction notices. Rj Robinson posted a photo of the papers in the Franklin Village Facebook group yesterday and wrote "We have 120 days to get out." The Villa Carlotta, designed by Arthur E. Harvey, built in 1926, and packed with fascinating Old Hollywood lore, is a favorite among artists and notoriously cool about letting residents renovate their spaces or sublet when they're out of town on a shoot, but things began to change when new management arrived in 2013 and occupancy was already down to just 42 percent when the building sold this year to a firm called CGI Strategies, which is now apparently kicking out all of its rent-controlled tenants so it can convert the building into something more lucrative.

After management company Tanner & White took over in spring 2013, a Facebook page called Save Villa Carlotta popped up to document changes—trees were cut down, security camera signs were put up—and Curbed began receiving tips that the company was attempting to evict tenants. The building went up for sale shortly after and sold for $12.25 million this past August to CGI, which said it would convert some of the Carlotta's 50 units to "fully furnished, extended stay apartments" catering to a higher tier of entertainment type ("the executive engaged in the entertainment, Internet and technology business, traveling to Hollywood to work on a project").

We've messaged Robinson for more details, but the eviction notice he posted cites the Ellis Act, a state law that allows landlords to evict all of their tenants if they're getting out of the rental business—it's usually used when the owner wants to convert a building to a hotel or condos and it's been a central instrument in the hypergentrification of San Francisco in the last few years. It's lately started to become popular in Los Angeles. CGI's website says the Carlotta "will be redeveloped into luxury apartments over a two-year construction period." Los Angeles's application of the Ellis Act seems to allow landlords to kick rent-controlled tenants out to convert buildings into luxury apartments. Tenants are given the right of first refusal on their old units for up to five years.

(According to the San Francisco Tenants Union, it's common for landlords to give tenants non-binding "warnings" that look like eviction notices; commenters on Robinson's post say they are looking into the validity of the Villa Carlotta notices. CGI's California phone number was out of service when we called; a message left at their New York office has not yet been returned.)

The Spanish Colonial Villa Carlotta was built as high-end apartments in the 1920s by the estate of early filmmaker Thomas Ince, who died mysteriously in 1924 following a trip on William Randolph Hearst's yacht; it's rumored that Hearst helped finance the building out of guilt over Ince's death. Tenants over the years have included gossip Louella Parsons (who was on that fateful boat trip), Hearst's mistress Marion Davies (same), director George Cukor, producer David O. Selznick, and architect Wallace Neff. The guilt has moved out.
· Legendary Villa Carlotta Complex Getting Hollywood Makeover [Curbed LA]
· Rumormongering at Villa Carlotta, Where Studios Fit Grand Pianos [Curbed LA]
· LA Landlords Pushing Out All the Rent-Controlled Apartments [Curbed LA]