Wednesday, April 20, 2016

La Perle- 5333-5341 Hermitage Avenue

La Perle is a 9-unit 2-story apartment building located behind two bungalows with a central garden courtyard used by all residents.  The bungalows housed large families of 5 to 7 people, while the smaller La Perle apartments were rented by small families and individuals. The bungalows had front yards where the children could play and the central courtyard was communally used and lined with all manner of plants including roses and banana trees. In itself La Perle was an active community with long term tenants.

 Architecturally, Los Angeles has has only two categories: monument or tear-down, making it impossible to save these humble village residences on architectural grounds. Los Angeles currently offers NO protection for the buildings that home tenancies protected by the rent stabilization ordinance. This means that while LA deems any residential structure built before 1978 as rent stabilized, it does not protect these buildings from being demolished. The only way to preserve a building is if it can be deemed an architectural "monument." One way to do that is if a culturally significant person lived in the home. Across the street from La Perle was what was called the Marilyn Home, a small bungalow once lived in for a short period of time by perhaps the greatest icon of the city Los Angeles, Marilyn Monroe. An application for cultural heritage monument status was applied for but the developer illegally demolished the building 3 days before the hearing. Now the community is suing.

 At La Perle, the developer applied and was granted a density bonus, meaning that in exchange for being allowed to increase the maximum height from 36' to 45' the developer promises to reserve 4 of the 42 units as "very low income restricted affordable units."  The property therefore will actually drop from 11 affordable units to 4. According to the Housing Element, which is part of the General Plan, the city has already surpassed building enough Luxury units of housing but is far behind in the creation of any new low or moderate income housing yet the city continues to approve the demolition of affordable homes so that luxury housing can be built.
Developer: Yaron Levy, Fourth Street Venture L.P.
Developer's legal representative: Ellia Thompson, Sklar Kirsh
Council District: 2, Krekorkian
Community Group: Save Valley Village

Friday, April 8, 2016

Donate to the UpHouse Project

Donate to the project at: GoFundMe

My name is  Anne Hars. I am an artist and my UpHouse Balloon Project places bouquets of balloons on homes slated for demolition to make way for new luxury housing in Los Angeles. 
The balloon project seeks to ask people to consider the meaning of home and community, the value of our labors, and if we are going to be a caring city- a city of angels, or a city that rewards developers profiteering off homelessness and the housing crisis.
 With your help I can balloon more threatened rent stabilized homes across Los Angeles and help draw attention to the loss of affordable homes in LA.
Check out the project so far Here. 
Here are some links to news stories about the project:
The Guardian 
The LA Times 
ABC News
Ways to help:
$65 Big Bouquet of Balloons
$33 Wee Bouquet of Balloons
$20 Big bag of Balloons
$10 Little Bag of Balloons

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Jean's Homestead- 5303 Hermitage Avenue

Photo: Bill Wheelock

Jean’s Homestead, 5303 hermitage Avenue
Valley Village, Ca 91607

Jennifer Getz moved to the homestead at 5303 Hermitage Avenue about 20 years ago and her elderly landlady Jean immediately put her to work in the gardens. She soon had Jennifer doing maintenance and hired her on as property manager. A close friendship developed between the two based on their mutual love of caring for the property. Jean told Jennifer how she and her husband had begun building their house on the site in the 1930’s. They liked community so they built a duplex and a guest house as well. Jean dedicated an entire section of her home as a women's sewing center so the ladies of the neighborhood could gather together and sew while the children ran around and played. At one point they even had a day care. The house as Jean built it was a neighborhood destination. Jean raised her two children Clint and Sydney at the house and lived their until she was 95 years old. Her son found her a place to live near him and Jennifer continued on as property manager, regularly visiting with Jean to report on her beloved property what flowers were in bloom and if the  mature camphor trees in the front needed trimming.

Jean died shortly after her one hundredth birthday.  Jean never did agreements, contracts, or leases of any kind. Everything was on a handshake. But son Clint legally gave Jennifer the right of first refusal if the property was ever to be sold. Jennifer and Jean's children  had a warm relationship. Jeans son Clint helped Jennifer work on the property and Jennifer in turn found alternative revenue streams for the two siblings by renting the property to location scouts for movies and tv. By this time Jennifer had found her niche in the burgeoning Urban Farming community and had started a non-profit called dedicated to working with children to ignite compassion for animals and the environment in the city. Her particular interest was teaching kids about the importance of our urban environment; providing hands on education for kids to learn about bees, making honey, backyard chickens & the importance of how even kids can help play a role in environmental conservation & preservation.

Life was good for the residents and the owners  at Jean’s Homestead at 5303 Hermitage Ave. But then Clint died suddenly and a grandchild Jennifer had never met- Eric S. Edwards- appeared fresh out of law school and eager to profit from his grandmother's property even though he had no legal grounds to do so. He made a deal to sell Jean's Homestead to a luxury small lot development company called Urban Blox. Suddenly, Jennifer was faced with eviction along with many long term renting families who lived on the block. The prospect of seeing Jean's lifetime of work bulldozed so that a small group- the developers and the grandson- could make a huge profit spurred Jennifer to action. The grandson started intimidation tactics to try to get the tenants out. Urban Blox brought in high powered attorneys from Sklar Kirsh  who also happen to be representing a handful of other developers with demolition plans for the neighborhood. Her legal right of first refusal was treated as if it did not exist. Security cameras Jennifer installed to protect Jean's Homestead now serve an entirely new purpose, to protect the tenants from Urban Blox.

Jennifer is a very smart lady. She quickly learned everything she could about the laws and felt she had a strong case. She tried to get the homestead made into a cultural landmark;  a process actually started with Jean before her death. This is one of the few ways of saving homes from demolition in LA. But  the legal team from Urban Blox shot down the application.  She then treid to get just the trees designated being the oldest & largest last remaining Camphors in the area.  Again, the developers & their attorneys got there way by one vote.

Jennifer then tried to appeal to the Department of City Planning (DCP) and senior planner Jose Romero-Navarro when Urban Blox decided to apply for permission to demolish Jean’s homestead even though they do not own it.  But Navarro decided to allow the hearing to take place despite widespread community opposition. Legions of letters have been submitted to the city citing the development's failure to comply with dozens of state & city codes. The proposed development  includes the wholesale destruction of Jean’s homestead, a neighboring mid-sized apartment building, a single family house - all rent stabilized with long term tenants, and the demolition of over 3 dozen trees- to build the luxury small lot development. None of the current residents can afford the proposed units. Many would not choose to live in them if they could.  

The fate of Jean’s Homestead hangs in the balance as the Planning and Land Use Committee is currently reviewing the community appeal.

To voice your concerns about this project contact the Plum Committee members and land use staff:

Jose Huizar, Chair

(213) 473-7014

Marqueece Harris-Dawson

(213) 473-7008

Gilbert A. Cedillo

(213) 473-7001

Mitch Englander

(213) 473-7012

Curren D. Price Jr.

(213) 473-7009



 I am emailing you to urge the councilmember to Save Hermitage and Uphold the appeal for Case Number VTT 73704-SL and ENV-2015-2618-MND scheduled for the Planning and Land Use Meeting on October 25, 2016.

We need you to stand up to Greedy Developers who bully and harass tenants, destroy our architectural legacy and demolish the last of our rent stabilized homes.