Eviction proceedings began September 1 with the service of summons and complaints in unlawful detainer lawsuits against the 37 remaining households in the once 795-unit Lincoln Place apartment complex in Venice. The tenants’ written responses to the lawsuits, in which landlord AIMCO seeks possession of the premises, are expected to be filed within one week’s time.
In the most recent chapters of a years-long saga, the Lincoln Place Tenants Association in June of this year filed a court action under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) against the City of Los Angeles and property owner Apartment Investment Management Company (AIMCO) seeking to forestall eviction of the remaining tenants. The Los Angeles Superior Court denied that relief on August 16. The tenants appealed, and on August 22 they applied to the appellate court for an order freezing the status quo pending their appeal.
Before a ruling had been made on that application, the August 31 deadline previously agreed upon among the parties (in the absence of court intervention) for commencement of the eviction process came and went. The California Court of Appeal later (on September 5) denied the tenants’ “supersedeas” application to halt eviction proceedings.
Current and former tenants gathered at the Lincoln Place site east of Lincoln Blvd. and south of Rose Ave. on the evening of August 31, the eve of the agreed-upon deadline, hoping to celebrate good news from the as-yet silent appellate court. Los Angeles City Council member Bill Rosendahl, who represents the area, was there and said that he had heard of offers from AIMCO to pay some tenants as much as $24,000 to vacate (well above relocation allowances generally required by law), but that he understood that “after 7 p.m. tonight, all deals are off the table.” His parting words to the assembled were, “If you get a deal that makes sense to you, take it.” Approximately 37 households did not.
AIMCO, which has owned the entire property for years, first as a co-owner and then outright, has been attempting to redevelop the site into a higher-density condominium project. After serving “notice to quit” on the tenants months ago, it agreed to forego eviction proceedings until after August 31.
The Lincoln Place tenants, as defendants in the civil unlawful detainer lawsuits, have only five days after service of the summons and complaints to file a court response. Such cases then proceed through the court system much more rapidly than general civil lawsuits.
Tenants now complain about the manner in which AIMCO has been serving the court papers beginning September 1. Ordinarily, such “service” is effected by personal delivery to the defendant. The law provides for “substituted service” by posting the papers at the defendant’s residence and then mailing an additional copy (known in the trade as “nail and mail” service), but only when the papers “cannot with reasonable diligence be personally delivered.” Tenants claim that the postings on their doors on the first available day is a misuse of the substituted service procedure.
All of which will no doubt be presented to the court in this newest round of the saga.