Tenants Protest Their Evictions at Historic Hollywood Villa Carlotta Apartments
Tenants Facing Ellis Act Evictions at the historic Villa Carlotta Apartments received support for their “Hug the Carlotta” Protest from the Coalition for Economic Survival (CES), students from The Oakwood School and Community Groups and Residents on April 21, 2015.
Last Christmas, CGI Strategies, the new owners of the Villa Carlotta Apartments in Hollywood provided their tenants with presents in the form of eviction notices. Using the provisions of the state Ellis Act, which allows landlords to remove units from the rental market and evict tenants, the owners served tenants with 120-day eviction notices. The eviction notices expired on April 21, 2015.
The owners have stated that they want to convert the building into a short-term luxury hotel. Tenants, many who have been long-term renters there, have been under severe pressure to accept payouts to move earlier than the eviction date. A number of tenants have succumbed to the pressure and have moved.
The rest of the tenants have fought back, claimed that owners have no much higher rents. This would violate the provisions of the Ellis Act by re-renting the units within 5 years after falsely forcing tenants out.
The tenants have been gaining community support. They have been assisted by the tenants’ rights organization, the Coalition for Economic Survival. Recently, students of The Oakwood School‘s senior theatre class became aware of the Villa Carlotta’s plight while preparing a play that echoed the Carlotta’s story. Determined to help the residents keep their homes, students and tenants recently spoke before the LA City Council, asking Council Member Tom LaBonge, who represents the district Villa Carlotta is located in, to intervene on their behalf.
With their pleas to the City going unanswered, the tenants, students and community supporters stood together on the day of their eviction notice states they need to vacate and collectively hugged the building in a visual demonstration and show of solidarity to protest and stop the evictions. The Oakwood School theatre students also performed a reading from the play “Hot l Baltimore” after the action in the lobby of the Villa Carlotta.
In addition there was a representative from UNITE-HERE Local 11 (two members of the union reside at Villa Carlotta), the Hollywood United Neighborhood Council and tenants from the Rodney Drive Tenant Association who are also facing Ellis Act evictions from their Los Feliz apartments.
Villa Carlotta Apartments has had a storied past. The four story building on the northwest corner of Franklin and Tamarind was designed by Arthur E. Harvey for the estate of early filmmaker Thomas Ince. One of the building’s most famous long-time tenants was gossip columnist Louella Parsons, who wrote her column from her apartment there. Other past tenants in the 50-unit building included actor Edward G. Robinson, producer David O. Selznick, actress Marion Davies, architect Wallace Neff, Neil Patrick Harris and lead vocalist Dan Reynolds of the rock group Imagine Dragons, who wrote a hit record there, and whose wife and child attended the protest.
Story by Larry Gross