The motion of Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl for a one-year moratorium on condo conversions in his 11th District, introduced before the Council on August 8, has been referred to the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) and the Housing, Community and Economic Development committees. Rosendahl said he expected the committees would give the motion quick and favorable consideration, and that the ordinance establishing the moratorium would come back for consideration by the full council sometime in the fall.
The Los Angeles 11th District surrounds Santa Monica; it is bounded by Mulholland Drive on the north, the Pacific Ocean on the west, Imperial Highway on the south, and (roughly) the 405 Freeway on the east, and it encompasses Brentwood, Del Rey, Mar Vista, Marina del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Palms, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista, Venice, West LA and Westchester.
Rosendahl said the moratorium would call a “time out” to a rapid and dramatic loss in rental housing, both affordable and market rate, in his district. In recent years, he said, thousands of rental units in that area have been converted or demolished and replaced by high-priced condominiums. “We are at the point of crisis,” Rosendahl said. “Longtime residents are being forced from their homes in epidemic numbers. They can no longer continue to live in their neighborhoods. Our communities are being ripped apart.”
“District 11 is one district out of 15 [in the City of Los Angeles] and yet it accounts for more than a quarter of the condo conversions and more than a third of the rent controlled units lost citywide,” the motion recounted. “To address this crisis, the Planning Department, Housing Department, Community Redevelopment Agency and City Attorney’s Office should work together to develop policies, amendments to the Los Angeles Municipal Code, and funding mechanisms to prevent the loss, and instead increase the supply of additional affordable rental housing units,” the motion continued.
Although Rosendahl’s motion by its terms only addresses his council district, the subject of rental to condominium conversions and the broader issue of affordable housing is a matter of concern across America and in Europe, and nowhere more so than in the greater Los Angeles area. Santa Monica City Council candidates are addressing the issue. The VA in West LA is experiencing increased inquiries from Korean War and WWII veterans who have been forced out of their residences.
With particular reference to his district, Rosendahl says that from January 1, 2001 to July 27, 2006, 1051 rental units were converted to condominiums in District 11, representing more than 25 percent of the number of units converted citywide in Los Angeles. An additional 790 units were demolished and replaced by condos in District 11 from 2001-2005. Additionally, he says that 3,058 rent controlled units have been lost in his district between January 2001 and May 2006, representing more than 30 percent of the rent controlled units lost citywide.
“Our communities are becoming more and more economically segregated,” Rosendahl said. “We need to preserve rental and affordable housing in order to protect the diversity and character of our neighborhoods.”