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LA looking to prevent demolition of buildings where Ellis Act violations are alleged

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A recent example in Hollywood highlighted the need for a new policy

The apartments at 1332 and 1334 N. Formosa in Hollywood were demolished in January even though they were the subject of an open HCID investigation.
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The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously last week to look into creating policy that could prevent demolition of buildings while they are under investigation for alleged violations of the Ellis Act, the Beverly Press reports.

The original motion, proposed back in February, cited an instance where a Hollywood apartment building vacated through Ellis Act evictions was given a demolition permit by the LA Department of Building and Safety, even though there was an open Housing and Community Investment Department investigation into whether or not the building’s vacant apartments had been illegally rented out as short-term Airbnb units.

The motion notes that “there is currently no clear-cut procedure within the Ellis Act, L.A.M.C or departmental regulations” to prevent these kinds of bureaucratic mix-ups, and the lack of a procedure worked in favor of the developer: By the time the interdepartmental disconnect was discovered, the building had already been partially demolished.

The Hollywood apartments were one of several reports that landlords and developers have been quickly renting out Ellis-emptied units as short-term rentals—“a violation of both the Ellis Act and current zoning codes,” the motion notes. (Units emptied by the Ellis Act are supposed to be vacant for five years before being rented again.)