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CES In The News
Los Angeles Daily News
Tuesday August 15, 2006
Tenants may get aid under condo plan

Under increasing pressure to slow the loss of affordable rentals, several City Council members have drafted recommendations designed to protect tenants, including paying them more if they're evicted to make way for condominiums.

The City Council's Housing, Community and Economic Development Committee will consider the recommendations today.

Tenants' rights groups said the recommendations are a good start, but don't do enough to slow the loss of low-cost rental apartments.

"What they're really saying is, we're going to sit around and watch the crisis get worse and maybe give some benefit to those who are victims, but we're really not going to do anything to slow it down or address the loss of all these affordable units," said Larry Gross, executive director for the Coalition for Economic Survival, which wants a moratorium on condo conversions.

Los Angeles has lost more than 11,000 rent-controlled units during the past five years, as developers evict tenants to make way for new or converted condo complexes.

Middle-class and gentrifying communities - such as Valley Village, Studio City and Koreatown - have seen hundreds of residents evicted to make way for condos.

During three hearings in May, the City Council's Housing and Planning committees heard from residents, evicted tenants, property owners and developers. City leaders pledged to find solutions that were fair to both tenants and developers.

"We're making sure the condo conversion and demolition processes are being done within city guidelines and to ensure that the rights of displaced tenants are not abused," said Monica Valencia, spokeswoman for Councilman Ed Reyes, who heads the council's Planning and Land Use Committee.

Councilwoman Wendy Greuel said the recommendations would close legal loopholes that hurt renters.

"We've added additional checks and balances to protect tenants."

The recommendations include:

Increase the fee charged for condo conversions in buildings larger than 11 units from $500 to $1,500 per unit.

Provide tenants with $1,000 for moving expenses, in addition to relocation money.

Form a task force to encourage the construction of more rental housing.

Create a program to help displaced tenants buy condominiums created by conversions and demolitions.

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