November 8, 2012

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Residents of the 100-year-old apartment building at 2913 S. Flower Street are sending a letter to the city today.

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By Katherine Davis, Posted 11/8/12

“Dear Developers, City Officials, and members of the general public, This letter is meant to express one simple intention: we will not leave our community without a fight,” the letter begins.

Many families in the 33-unit building have lived there between 15 and 35 years. But they have started to feel pressured by the growth of the neighborhood around them.

“There’s a lot of redevelopment of this area,” says Thelmy Perez, an organizer with the LA Human Right to Housing Collective. Her organization helped write the letter along with other groups LA CAN and Comunidad Presente. “You have the university to the south, you have now the proposed Farmer’s Field development that’s just north of us, you have the giant Palmer project that’s up here on the corner, you have the new Icon project that’s over here on the corner of Figueroa and Jefferson and the Metro [Expo] rail line.”

About half of the building’s residents are USC students. The low income families in the building like having students around and being part of the University community, but worry they might be asked to leave soon.

The building is managed by student rental group, First Choice Housing and owned by 424 W. Brown Road, LLC. First Choice Housing says it is not aware of the building being for sale.

Some residents say they’ve been offered money to move out though. So before any big changes happen, they have written this letter to the city and sought legal advice. Barbara Schultz is a lawyer working on the tenants’ behalf.

“Under the state’s Ellis Act a landlord is allowed to remove a unit from the market, but only if they’re going to permanently remove a unit from the rental market. They are not allowed to displace tenants only to either just replace them with new tenants or build a new building and replace them with new buildings,” Schultz says.

In October, USC agreed to contribute $20 million toward affordable housing as part of their University Village expansion project. Farmers Field reached a similar settlement with the city last week for $15 million. Until those projects begin, what will happen with those contributions is unclear.

It is clear that this neighborhood is changing quickly. Whether or not the rumors of the building’s potential sale are true, Perez says the residents want the city to know their concerns saying, “What we’re calling for is people-oriented development.”

Residents say they don’t mind changes in the neighborhood, as long as it means they don’t have to go anywhere.

(Follow up story, Annenberg Radio News)