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CES In The News

Los Angeles Daily News
Friday July 14, 2006
Condo Conference Draws Protest

Escalating the battle over the growing number of Los Angeles condo conversions, affordable housing advocates protested outside a real estate conference Thursday and called for a moratorium on conversions.

The rally outside the two-day West Coast Condo Conversion Conference in Century City comes as Los Angeles city officials consider new rules to limit the conversion or demolition of affordable and rent-controlled apartments.

This Picture Did Not Appear In the Original Version of This Article

But activists complained the city is taking too long even as they're seeing an increase in evictions as property owners and developers anticipate new restrictions.

"Every month they delay we lose more affordable units," said Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival

"We're sending a message to the condo converters inside that we won't take this lying down. People will fight to save every square foot of affordable housing in this city."

Councilman Ed Reyes, who heads the City Council's Planning and Land Use Committee, said the city is looking at ways to protect affordable housing without hurting the real estate market.

"For me to have a knee-jerk reaction of a moratorium would go against the spirit and intent of our efforts. This is not a one-size-fits-all solution," Reyes said.

Spurred by a pricey real estate market and high land values, property owners have been evicting renters to convert the units to condominiums or demolish the apartments to build larger condominium buildings.

Residents have been evicted from more than 11,000 rent-controlled units during the past five years.

Studio City renter Gary Watts has asked City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel to temporarily stop the demolitions and conversions and study their impact. Recently, he received an eviction notice for his $920-a-month, two-bedroom apartment, which is slated for condos.

"Our council members haven't stepped up to the plate to do something for their community," said Watts, who joined the protest outside the conference Thursday.

Bob Sheridan, whose Chicago-based firm Robert Sheridan and Partners LLC specializes in condo conversions, said condominiums are the affordable option for first-time home buyers, since single-family homes average over $500,000. Stopping conversions could be a mistake for Los Angeles, he said.

"The problem isn't conversion. The problem is the cities are not doing enough to encourage affordable housing," Sheridan said.

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