The Lincoln Place Apartments in Venice, California were built in 1950, in a Hollywood stylized version of Modern architecture.  It had 795 apartments in 52 low-rise garden apartment buildings, which were scattered throughout a green oasis of wide lawns and meandering paths.  It has become a mini-village for thousands of families over the years and some current residents have lived there for decades. The tenants in the tight-knit community are now being evicted because the owner wants to build a large condominium project on the 35 acre site.  The tenants are trying to get the eviction orders reversed and to stop any new ones.  

The current owner, AIMCO, Apartment Investment and Management Company, Denver-based and one of the largest owners of apartments in the nation, has said they now want to build 1008 condominiums on the site.  However, in 2002, according to the only approved redevelopment plan, known as Vesting Tentative Tract Map 51337 ( VTT or Redevelopment), the Landlord was granted an “entitlement to build”  850 units. This was a net increase of 55 units from the 795 original units.   In return for the increase in density and other concessions, the Landlord agreed to mitigate the displacement of tenants by giving every household a minimum 180 days notice to relocate to a comparable or better unit within Lincoln Place at their current rent. Prior to demolition, AIMCO was required to provide the city with a Relocation Plan outlining how the tenants would be relocated.

 

In May 2003, AIMCO demolished five buildings on the Lake Street edge of Lincoln Place, and the city and the landlord were sued by a group of preservationists for failure to comply with the pre-conditions as outlined in the VTT.  In July, 2005, the Court of Appeals held that since the five buildings were part of the VTT, AIMCO had activated the terms and conditions of the VTT and thus must comply with the conditions outlined in the VTT.

 

In March, 2005, AIMCO filed paperwork with the Housing Department to evict the tenants, claiming that AIMCO was going out of the rental business under the Ellis Act, a state statute which permits landlords who are going out of business and withdrawing not less than all of the rental units from the marketplace to evict tenants without fault.  Over 100 households had 120 days to vacate their apartments by July 19 and over 80 households (nearly all senior and disabled tenants) were given until March 20, 2006.  In July, 2005, AIMCO filed unlawful detainers against 80 households and the legal battle began.

 

In a unanimous decision, in August, 2005, the California State Historic Resources Commission granted historic designation to Lincoln Place.  AIMCO then filed to have this decision reversed and a hearing was scheduled for November 4.  On October 25, the parties (AIMCO, tenants, preservationists, and the city) met to discuss a settlement agreement and AIMCO suspended eviction activity during these talks.  After three days of negotiations, an agreement was drafted to set aside 242 units to be preserved and the remainder of the units at Lincoln Place would be demolished in exchange for life tenancies under rent control for the tenants.  However, this agreement would be null and void if the Commissioners refused to overturn their decision that Lincoln Place was historic.  The city also was required to issue demolition permits to AIMCO allowing about 450 units to be demolished by March 20, 2006.  On November 4, the Commissioners upheld their earlier decision that Lincoln Place was historic and AIMCO restarted the eviction activity.

 

On December 6, the Sheriff locked out 52 households (21 children and 65 adults) in AIMCO's continued attempt to empty Lincoln Place of tenants. Council Member Bill Rosendahl said it was the largest single day eviction in the history of the City of Los Angeles.