In a modern-day version of David vs. Goliath, the remaining residents at Lincoln Place scored a huge victory against the powerful conglomerate AIMCO.
The Los Angeles City Council voted last Wednesday, October 3, to seek no further review of the court of appeal decision that enjoined further evictions at Lincoln Place in Venice and directed the City of Los Angeles to enforce tentative tract map conditions that existing tenants were not to be involuntarily displaced from the site.
The 11-1 council vote approved a motion by Councilmember Bill Rosendahl and ignored the contrary advice of City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo.
“I am extremely grateful that my Council colleagues voted to stand up for tenants’ rights and stand up for justice,” said Rosendahl. “In deciding not to appeal the court decision in favor of the Lincoln Place Tenants Association, the City Council firmly said that it accepts the court ruling that the tenants should not have been evicted, and that the City of Los Angeles has not just the ability, but the duty and obligation, to protect and defend renters.”
On September 19, the California Court of Appeal reversed a trial court ruling that had dismissed an action brought by Lincoln Place tenants against property owner AIMCO Venezia LLC and the City of Los Angeles. That action sought to enforce certain tenant protections that were adopted as “mitigation measures” under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when the City approved a vesting tentative tract map for the project in 2002.
Delgadillo had advised the City Council in 2005 not to take action to enforce the tract map conditions because the city was powerless in the face of what he called the landlord’s rights under the California Ellis Act. The City Council followed that advice then.
At the opening of council debate last Wednesday, Rosendahl said, “This is a major moment – a moment we must rise to. The court has given us power. We should embrace it and use it. But the City Attorney’s office is going to advise us this morning to shy away from that moment, and to shirk our power.” He continued, “Let me be very clear: we should not appeal this decision. And we should not say we seek to revise, reduce, or diminish this decision by scurrying back to the court, asking for permission not to use that power.”
This time, the Council ignored Delgadillo’s advice and voted with Rosendahl.
It has been reported that landlord AIMCO intends to seek further judicial review in the case, but AIMCO lawyers did not respond to a request for comment for this article.