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CES In The News

Los Angeles Daily News
Wednesday January 31, 2007
L.A. Condo Rules Closer to Approval
Still Unclear is the Issue of Relocation Assistance


Two Los Angeles City Council committees moved one step closer Tuesday to finalizing strict new rules governing evictions and condominium conversions, but it remains unclear how much property owners would pay relocating tenants.

The elderly, disabled and parents with children could receive $17,000 under a relocation mandate ordered by the Planning Commission. Landlords now pay $8,000 for special-needs tenants.

Other renters would receive $9,000 in relocation funds. They now get $3,200.

But landlords and developers said the proposed relocation fees are too high, don't take into account tenants' incomes or length of residency and could be levied even if a planned condo conversion never goes through.

Kate Bartolo with development company The Kor Group said the money should be targeted to residents who have the greatest need.

"It is completely unclear who would benefit and when they would benefit," Bartolo said.

But low-income housing advocates pushed the council to adopt the new relocation funds and said they were concerned that the fees could be reduced in last-minute negotiations.

"Even this money will do nothing to guarantee new and decent housing (tenants) can afford," said Larry Gross with the Coalition for Economic Survival.

Roughly a year after activists first raised concerns about mass evictions for condo conversions, City Council members said they're close to completing rules that will probably discourage some property owners from pursuing condo conversions by making the process more expensive.

Since 2001, tenants from some 12,000 rent-controlled units have been evicted to make way for condo conversions and demolitions to build new ones.

In addition to the tenant-relocation fees, the proposed rules would levy a per-unit fee - $671 for special-needs tenants and $431 for other tenants - to a relocation firm to help tenants find new apartments.

The city is also appointing a panel of experts to consider whether to cap the number of condo conversions allowed.

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