$1 million settlement from Alexandria Hotel owners, City and CRA to current and former tenants

 

Low-income tenants at the century-old Alexandria Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, who were subjected to unlawful displacement, shutoffs of heat, water and elevator service, have negotiated a broad-sweeping case settlement in their lawsuit filed in December, 2007.  This victory comes after more than three years of tenant organizing to protect their homes, including dozens of LA CAN members.  The settlement sets numerous new policies and also provides compensation to the 10 most harmed tenants as well as more than 100 tenants who were wrongfully displaced. 

 

The case of the Alexandria Hotel is much more than the classic “landlord preys on weak and vulnerable tenants” narrative. Those cases are usually characterized by slumlords, in isolation, failing to provide basic services and habitable environments for tenants who are usually poor. In the case of the Alexandria Hotel, the City of Los Angeles and the Community Redevelopment Agency were aware of the problems almost immediately after Amerland Group took control of the property.  Tenants consistently raised their voices to City officials and City Councilmembers about the violations of their housing and human rights, yet the City and CRA failed to remedy those situations.  But a strong group of organized low-income tenants would not give up, we continued to stand up to the political and developer interests in creating a “new downtown” and, finally, have achieved victory.

 

The publicly-funded project at the Alexandria, as originally approved by the CRA, was intended to revitalize the property for the benefit of current tenants.  However, it became clear pretty quickly that “improving” the property involved more than new paint and kitchenettes—it also meant getting rid of the original tenants, mostly African American, extremely poor people. In response, tenants made numerous visits to Councilmember Huizar and his staff, testified publicly at the CRA Commission (because it was the local funding agency) and City Council, contacted the Mayor’s Office on multiple occasions, collected evidence to support their claims, and educated and organized dozens of tenants to fight against the mass displacement.

 

Instead of help from City officials, tenants and organizers were routinely ignored, targeted and/or slandered by both the developer and city officials.  For example:

Þ    There were emails between the developer and City officials accusing tenants and LA CAN staff of lying, drug dealing, and other things to discredit the testimony of poor people

Þ    After the problems at the Alexandria were well-documented and shared, letters of support from local and state elected officials, including the Mayor and Councilmember Perry, were provided for a second project by the developer

Þ    High ranking LAPD officers attended extended CRA board meetings to provide public support for the developer to off-set complaints made by tenants

Þ    Multiple LAPD officers attended eviction court to testify against current tenants, although there were no convictions to report

 

Again, tenants did not give up in the face of adversity.  LA CAN members continued to document the problems and worked with our legal partners at LAFLA to put together an amazing legal team to support the efforts of tenants.  This settlement provides some long-deserved justification and compensation for tenants who stood up for their rights, faced eviction, endured humiliation and name calling by Councilmember Cardenas and others, but finally won their David and Goliath story.  It also includes policy changes at the Alexandria and the CRA that will prevent similar situations from occurring in the future.  LA CAN is proud of all of our members who participated in this fight, especially those who lived at the Alexandria. 

 

Links to some media coverage:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29167925/

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-alexandria13-2009feb13,0,336902.story

press release

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6 Responses to “$1 million settlement from Alexandria Hotel owners, City and CRA to current and former tenants”

  1. My homelessness began at age 68 when I was locked out of my HUD/Sec8 senior community apartment on February 27, 2009 for making complaints about criminal behavior and the lack of safety in the building of 100 apartments. The owners [Amerland Group; San Diego, California], Management [Logan Property Management, Martha Enrique] and Resident Manager, Karen Brooks, along with Attorney, Linda Hollenbeck [Kimball,Tirey & StJohn] had no care or concern that they were putting an elderly disabled woman onto the streets.

    HUD ignored every complaint I sent to them.

    My eviction was never even given a “due dilegance” investigation by Attorney Hollenbeck. Attorney’s Duty to Investigate Case: — Butler v State Bar (1986) 42 Cal3rd 323 (329) — Paul Oil Company v- Fed. Mutual Insurance (1998) 154 Fed 3rd 1049 –

    The unethical and dirty tricks this company put me through to get me out before the actually eviction were beyond belief: elder abuse, perjured documents, false police reports, and then when I approached the Appellant Court with a Writ to stay until the Appeal was heard, they went into court on an ex parte and charged me with “Work Place Violence” – with no credible proof.

    They weren’t happy with one; they took out two identical TROs. However, one judge who was well versed in the law saw through their scheme and dismissed it immediately as “void” because they “did not make their case.” I am fighting the second one in court, going beyond the new year. It was heard by a judge who did not know, or ignored the law which means he has lost his immunity and may now be sued. When a judge does not follow the law, i.e., they are a trespasser of the law, the judge loses subject-matter jurisdiction and the judges orders are void, of no legal force or effect. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 1687 (1974) stated that “when a state officer acts under a state law in a manner violative of the Federal Constitution, he “comes into conflict with the superior authority of that Constitution, and he is in that case stripped of his official or representative character and is subjected in his person to the consequences of his individual conduct. The State has no power to impart to him any immunity from responsibility to the supreme authority of the United States.” [Emphasis supplied in original]. THESE ARE VOID ON THE FACE.

    I, AND FOUR OTHERS ARE WANTING TO FILE A LAWSUIT AGAINST THESE EVIL PEOPLE

  2. PiterJankovich Says:

    My name is Piter Jankovich. oOnly want to tell, that your blog is really cool
    And want to ask you: is this blog your hobby?
    P.S. Sorry for my bad english

    • cangress Says:

      Hello Piter,

      No worries regarding your English, I understand very clearly what you are saying. This blog is used as a communication tool to highlight the work of dedicated members of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, and its allies. Lastly, i would definitely have difficulties communicating in your native language [lol] but it is the attempt that counts.

      Be Well.

  3. Yes, we know the Alexandria Hotel story and settlement is valid — now to get HUD to pay attention and take away their contracts in these buildings where the elderly and handicapped are abused.

  4. Good post. Hope to read a lot more great posts in the near future.

  5. local news, tucson news…

    […]$1 million settlement from Alexandria Hotel owners, City and CRA to current and former tenants «[…]…

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