The two remaining residents at Palihouse, formerly Embassy Apartments, Santa Monica, have filed a lawsuit against the City of Santa Monica and the Rent Control Board of the City of Santa Monica in the lead up to the residents’ impending eviction this month.
Long-term residents Charles Fine and Barry Sherman have called their apartments home for the past 38 and 19 years respectfully, and standing on the brink of eviction, made the decision to take the City to court after months of arduous thought.
“I just don’t think there is any other way,” commented Sherman. Residing with his wife and young daughter at Palihouse, Sherman said that the whole process has been incredibly unsettling for him and his family.
The rezoning of the former-apartment building to a hotel has raised heated debate and questions in the community about Santa Monica City’s ability to make arbitrary decisions regarding zoning laws.
A slew of cited evidence states that the property, in a residential neighborhood, was, for the longest time, zoned multi-family residential. Several attempts by previous owners to dodge rent control conditions claiming that the property was a hotel were denied by the City, stating that the apartments must behave as such.
A letter from the City on May 21, 1980, informed residents at the Embassy that then-owner Elis Nourafchan’s request for exemption claiming hotel/motel status was denied. “The units in the Embassy Hotel Apartments are controlled rental units covered by the Rent Control Charter Amendment,” the letter stated.
However, in recent times, this all changed.
A Settlement Agreement in 2000 between the property owners and Santa Monica City determined that “19 units were operating as hotel units and 19 units were rent controlled apartments,” the City stated. “Subsequently, in another Settlement Agreement entered into on May 10, 2011, the remaining 19 rent controlled units were authorized for conversion into hotel units, with certain rent control conditions, thereby enabling the full conversion of the building to a hotel use.”
Many are concerned that similar methods will be employed across the community.
The City of Santa Monica said that they, “received the complaint filed by the Palihouse tenants late last week and it is currently being reviewed by the City Attorney’s Office.”
For background information and more details on the issues surrounding Palihouse, click here.