A big new building with hundreds of hotel rooms and residential units may soon rise next to Capitol Records in Hollywood. But what will happen to tenants facing eviction from apartments that will be razed in order to redevelop the site?
The new mixed-user would replace a cluster of smaller residential buildings, including the 40-unit, rent-controlled Yucca-Argyle apartment complex that residents are fighting to save. "We're really most concerned about the elders and the low-income families," resident Sasha Ali told LA Weekly last year. "Where are they going to go?"
Plans for the project filed with the city in 2014 say the developer will set aside 39 of the 191 new units as affordable housing. But new plans submitted to the state earlier this year don’t mention any affordable units.
Those plans are part of an application to make the project eligible for a streamlined review process that makes it more difficult for opponents to delay or block the project through legal challenges.
The plans submitted to the state show the project has changed substantially from the plans filed three years ago, with a smaller hotel component and more residential units. But the 39 affordable units previously proposed are absent.
It's also not clear whether the residential units in the new project would be apartments or condos; if they were condos, the developer would not be required under the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance to set aside affordable units for existing tenants.
That has Ali worried. She says that developer Bob Champion previously indicated that current tenants would be given spots in the new project at affordable prices.
“We’re going to hold him accountable,” she tells Curbed. “He’s on record in the community and in newspapers saying [the affordable housing component] is what he plans to do—right of return and everything.”
Scott Morgan, deputy director of administration at the state’s Office of Planning and Research, tells Curbed the units may not be included in the new plans simply because affordable housing isn’t a factor in determining which projects are eligible for the streamlined review process. Instead, the state looks more closely at the cost of the project and whether it meets certain environmental standards.
But Cheryl Getuiza, a spokesperson for the city’s planning department, says that city planners have been in touch with a representative for the developer and that the plans for the project no longer include an affordable housing component.
A spokesperson for Champion Real Estate would only say via email that the project is still in the planning phases and has not been finalized.
That’s not particularly reassuring to Ali, who tells Curbed that a property management office has opened in the building and that employees have been offering to buy tenants out of their units.
Last year, Ali and other residents of the existing complex formed the Yucca-Argyle Tenants Association and even considered challenging the development in court. That August, the Hollywood United Neighborhood Council passed a resolution supporting the tenants. It also called on Los Angeles Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell to assist in preventing their displacement.
The pressure seemed to work; in March, Champion told the Los Angeles Times that he would set aside space in the new development for existing tenants, maintaining their current rent-stabilized payments and even subsidizing their rent at another location while the project is being constructed.
Ali says that compromise between the developer and existing tenants no longer seems like a certainty.
“We’re going to be speaking up,” she says. “We’re going to keep working together and we’re hoping we can come out of this without losing [our] home.”
Updated plans for the project have not yet been submitted to the city, but last month, Governor Jerry Brown certified the application for streamlined review. It now awaits approval from the state legislature.