Board of Officers Meeting/Special Meeting

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Grassroots Venice Neighborhood Council
Board of Officers Meeting/Special Meeting
United Methodist Church, 1020 Victoria Ave., Venice
Nov. 17, 2005
Call to Order by Chair: DeDe Audet 7:00 p.m.
Roll Call: (tape cut off beginning of roll call):
Yolanda Gonzalez, Richard Meyers, Susan Taylor Ross, Ingrid Miller, Peter
Force, Linda Lucks, Catherine Ferguson, Jillian___________, Collette Bailey,
Rebecca Tafoya. A quorum is established.
Introduction of Dignitaries:
Deputy Mayor for Neighborhood and Community Services, Larry Frank
Mayor’s Office, John Brady,
Council 11 District Officer: Mark Antonio Grant (?)
Public Comment on Non Agendized Items:
 Linda Lucks announced a meeting for the Oceanfront Walk Ad Hoc
Committee.
 Eight (8) stakeholders, residents of Lincoln Place, talked about issues
involving AIMCO acquiring the housing and initiating evicition
proceedings. They requested help from GRVNC’s Board, about how they
felt AIMCO’s mission statement contradicted what they were in the
process of doing to tenants, and how tough it was for those evicted to find
adequate, affordable housing - even though they are on the “right” side of
the law. One stakeholder stated that it was the Board’s job to represent
stakeholders in shaping the direction in which developers operate in the
community while another said that the City were forcing them to accept
the deal offered by the developer is being allowed to demolish Lincoln
Park properties without an EIR.
Presentation: Larry Frank, Deputy Mayor for Community Services, talked about
efforts being made to negotiate an agreement between the tenants, the
developer and the preservationists saying there is a deal on the table right now
(as of Nov. 17, 2005) where AIMCO had agreed to preserve 242 units at the
historic core in the development around El Grove Circle. Larry said that If
everything else was agreed to, it would be preserved for 50 years. Of those, 60
would be set aside for condos and 180 would be life tenancy agreements for
tenants in rent – controlled apartments under the Rent Stabilization Act. The
tenants would be moved around within that framework. (He then circulated the
framework for the Settlement Agreement). Also, AIMCO had agreed that 144
units would be set aside for 25 years at 60% and 80% affordability.
What AIMCO wanted in exchange, was for the preservationists and tenants, as
well as the Mayor and the City Council, to join them in calendaring the issue of
making the “core units” a State Historic Designation and getting permission to set
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a date for demolition of the other units: about 450 more units. Again, just 244 of
the 794 initial units would be preserved.
Larry said that the negotiations were very difficult and that the developer “had the
gun to the head of the tenants and tried to remove the preservationists.” They
wanted all the tenants to say that they wouldn’t oppose the development so they
could obtain demolition permits. Outstanding issues that remained were the
issues of affordability for tenants, the height limitations being removed, and the
issue of increasing the density of the development.
The preservations had talked about getting an attorney but weren’t sure they
wanted to bear the cost of attorney’s fees. There was also the issue of people
who weren’t on the lease and those that were added, that weren’t on the lease.
He also said that if permanent Historical Designation was attained, there would
be very little that the tenants could offer them that would keep AIMCO from going
back out and doing a full EIR.
He then reviewed the outcome of the previously – held meeting with the tenants,
the Sunday before the Board Meeting. The majority of tenants had decided to
take a chance on this deal thinking that, if they could stay, they could be a more
powerful group for Tenants Right than if they were disbursed through the eviction
process. The five who opposed this deal agreed to not go against the settlement.
Larry asked a key questions on many people’s minds, namely, “Why would
AIMCO risk the ire of the tenants and evict a whole lot of people?” He answered
that not too many people would want to go to court.
As far as fighting the demolition process, if they did achieve State Historical
Designation, he said that the developer believes that if the tenants are gone, they
could go back to Sequa, submit a new EIR, a new track map, and in three or so
years, come back with new development plans. Larry said that AIMCO believes
that in three years, Bill Rosenthal, the City Council, the Mayor and the GRVNC
would forget that they evicted tenants and would be more favorable to a different
picture of Lincoln Place.
Presentation: Amanda ___________, head of the preservationist movement for
Lincoln Place. Amanda stated her reasons for caring about Lincoln Place go
back to her interest in providing affordable housing for working class families. Her
interest was in preserving all the original 700+ units at Lincoln Place. She pointed
out that when Lincoln Place was first built, it was a time in history when
government thought they should do something about lack of affordable housing.
Lincoln Place was historic in that it was the largest development in CA.and
represented a very important roadmap to increase affordable housing. It was also
multicultural in its formation with a Jewish developer, an African American
architect and an Asian draftsperson. She stated that AIMCO was not interested
in signing a deal at all: they wanted performance without signing a deal.
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She then stated several problems that exist with the developer’s proposal
including a density increase of 27%, efforts to change the existing height
restriction of 30’ to 60’ without an architectural review on whatever they wanted
to add, and that the percentage of affordable housing they were proposing was
too low for the number of units they wanted to build.
Amanda said there was a Gag Order on tenants with the proposed settlement
and that if they even suspected anyone had talked about it, they could proceed
with evictions. All in all, she said it was a bad deal and it wasn’t enforceable
because the agreement wasn’t signed before the hearing. They had told tenants
that if they didn’t sign the plan, they would be evicted.
Three other speakers made short statements, a tenant, a senior tenant, and
someone from the Residents’ Association however, the audio quality was very
poor and their comments were inaudible.
Board Member Comments: (unidentified) commented that this was not the way
the GRVNC did business. She talked about AIMCO’s assertion that no tenant
would be displaced and conversely, about actions the City Attorney could take.
She said that the City had the right to impose additional mitigations if tenants’
needs were not being addressed. She suggested the City Planning Department
be asked to come up with additional mitigation measures that could be enforced.
Questions to Mr. Frank from Board Members: Mr. Frank was asked to
suggest language to AIMCO that would represent what was heard at the hearing.
His comments were, “The most compelling thing would be to say, ‘You may find
a way to get rid of the tenants but we are a Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood
Council and we aren’t going away. Three years from now, when you come back,
we’re going to be waiting for you and you’re going to have a project that you
would never build if it weren’t for us.” He added that he was convinced that this
wouldn’t what was going to happen to the tenants.
On the issue of enforcement and why the City Attorney wasn’t taking more
action, he said, “First of all, the Mayor has no control over the City Attorney; the
City Attorney is a separately - elected political officer. I’ve actually pulled the City
Attorney into my office to ask them the exact same question and their answer is
that they believe they would lose this court challenge. Whatever their reason is, I
don’t think you are going to get them to enforce this. It’s up to the courts to
enforce this.
Why did he think the GRVNC would be more powerful in three years?
“Now, you probably don’t have the power to stop AIMCO from evicting the
tenants. But in three years, if they come back to the City and try to build a new
development, after they tear this down, the problem is that there are many
historical buildings that are allowed to exist… (poor audio). That’s the way the
State Historical Designation process works. It’s a process; it’s not necessarily
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protection. In 3 years, unless AIMCO sells the property, which is also a
possibility, that could happen.”
Response from Amelia – “I would say, ‘If you think you are going to let the
building deteriorate, think again.’ There are laws and there is always an answer
to this. You have to be strong with them but you have to say, ‘Hey look, if you
evict the tenants, you are not going to get a plan approved. If you think we’re
going to forget, we’re not going to forget. If you think you’re going to let the
building deteriorate, there are laws to protect this and we plan on enforcing it.’”
(More comments – Lots of yelling.”
Speaker (Tenant’s Rep. - used to be Recording Secretary) explained in legal
terms that was required in appealing AIMCO’s stand saying that she thought the
they could win their appeal if they proved extreme hardship. While she
acknowledged that many people were afraid to take legal action, because in the
past, the City has lost in these situations, she believed that the developer would
not expect them to fight back. “We’re playing chicken with him and I don’t know
what the results will be.”
Board Member Richard Meyer explained the format for proceeding with the
hearing, asking for input on a letter that represents the Board’s position with five
or six bullet points.
Yolanda Gonzalez then asked if the eviction process could be stopped or
reversed.
____________Tenants Rep. Said that people could got to court on Monday and
try to do something but again, many were reluctant to get attorney because of the
fees and the fact that they haven’t been successful in the past.
Yolanda then explained her history in dealing with the City from a property
owner’s point of view. She said that she blamed the Housing Authorith for not
taking action on this issue. She talked about process of abatement and the
procedures were went through in dealing with the Housing Authority on her
building. She pointed out that the Housing Authority has a responsability at the
state level and should work with the landlord and help those who can’t get
affordable condos to find affordable housing. They should put disabled tenants
who have been evicted into other housing or help them get financing for
affordable homes.
She recommend that the Board send a representative to the City Attorney’s office
(the next day) to meet with him. If he doesn’t help, she said she would make sure
he doesn’t get elected in the next election. She then said that she would go to
City Hall to speak with the City Attorney and would see if they can get people
who have been evicted into housing immediately.
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Linda moved, “That the Board draft a letter to the CEO of AIMCO, the Mayor
and the City Attorney using whatever extreme language is necessary to
save the tenants left in Lincoln Place and get the developer back to the
table.” (Seconded by _________ Taylor Ross).
Richard Meyers asked the Board, again, for input on the bullet points for the
letter. The Chair suggested keeping it short and sweet without going into a lot of
detail.
The final bullet points, as reviewed by Richard, were:
 Action by the City attorney
 The need to address that the GRVNC would preserve a memory of
whatever happens with this
 No 60’ height
 A request to give affordable housing priority status
 That tenants don’t want to leave the area
 To oppose demolition and evictions
 To oppose negotiation with tenants using the threat of eviction
The roll call vote on the motion was unanimous.
Richard then suggested anyone participating in the writing of the letter to discuss
a timeframe for as soon as possible.
A stakeholder asked if they would have a fund to draw from if they have to go to
court. (answer was inaudible).
Meeting adjourned. 8:55 p.m.
Minutes prepared by Pat Kramer, Apple One
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