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City moves to block evictions of seniors in Westwood

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Officials want to know if the legality of the evictions could be challenged

A white building with a tall tower. The front of the building has an arched entryway. Shutterstock

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a motion today calling on city staff to find a way to prevent the eviction of hundreds of residents from a senior living home close to UCLA.

The building’s new owner, Watermark Retirement Communities, plans to renovate the property and convert it into a residential care facility. Invoking California’s Ellis Act, which allows landlords to mass-evict tenants in certain cases where a building’s use is altered, the company gave residents 120 days to vacate at the end of November.

Councilmember Paul Koretz, who yesterday launched a “pressure campaign” against the evictions, authored the motion passed by the council. It instructs the City Attorney, Planning Department, Department of Building and Safety, and Housing and Community Investment Department to investigate possible legal violations in Watermark’s plan.

The motion notes that the building’s previous owner had originally filed the plans for the property’s transformation. Those plans, however, called for residents to remain in the building as work went on.

“The attempt to undertake a different kind of renovation and conversion of 947 Tiverton based on approvals sought and/or obtained by a previous owner for a different plan raises questions about the validity of invoking the Ellis Act in this situation,” the motion reads.

In a press conference Monday, Koretz vowed to do everything in his power to prevent the evictions and encouraged members of the public to complain against the company in letters and emails.

In a press release, Watermark insisted that the evictions were necessary to safely renovate the property and noted that it had hired a “Relocation Liaison” to help residents find alternative housing. The motion, however, notes that current tenants—many of whom are in their 80s and 90s—could have a difficult time finding new places of residence as vacancy rates in senior facilities are currently “extremely low.”