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Vengeful Landlord Triples Rent on Santa Monica Museum of Art

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Everyone knows by now that rents across Los Angeles are shooting up wildly, but the story with the nonprofit Santa Monica Museum of Art at Bergamot Art Station is something else altogether: the museum's landlord has more than tripled the rent because he disagrees with their employees about a major redevelopment of the site. Per Santa Monica Next, the museum currently rents its space from a nearby gallery owner, who is not just the building's owner but was also, until a few weeks ago, part of one of the three teams vying to give Bergamot a major overhaul. SaMo's economic development department recommended a competing plan that happened to also receive a glowing endorsement from the SMMoA's director. Now the museum's rent has increased to $22,000 a month (it had been $7,000 rent) and the landlord is asking the museum for $53,000 in back-rent as well, "in response to what he considers its disruptive and unneighborly vision for Bergamot Station," the LA Times reported.

That same landlord/budding developer also switched camps at some point, joining other Bergamot tenants who are staunchly against any development at all. (The plans for Bergamot's redevelopment include a new hotel, commercial space for non-arts-related businesses, and a new museum space designed by Rios Clementi Hale. The hotel and commercial component are key pieces to keeping the complex affordable for artists, as that revenue is planned to heavily subsidize the rent for arts spaces.)

Couldn't the rent hike be a coincidence? Not likely, since the building owner admitted straight out he was attempting to stick it to the museum, but he did note that his motive for jacking up the rent on a nonprofit was based on principles, and not by petty bitterness about losing. He's "simply treating everyone the same." It's not clear yet what the museum's response to the sudden rent hike will be.
· Nonprofit Art Museum Voices Opinion, Building Owner Raises Rent [SMN]
· SaMo's Bergamot Art Station Getting Big Multi-Use Makeover [Curbed LA]