The renters of two well-maintained mansions built in 1910 ---located at 137 and 141 N. Rampart Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA 90026 ---were startled when they received a Hearing Notice from the Department of City Planning set for May 2 at City Hall. This was the first time they learned about their risk of possible displacement.
Carlos Neves previous owner living in the City of Carson, to whom renters continue to pay rent up to this date, has not given them word of ownership transfer. Yet, the proposed project application as described in the Hearing Notice involves the demolition of the two existing dwellings on adjacent lots and the construction, use, and maintenance of 10-small lot homes.”
The last owner change for the residence at 137 Rampart was November 14, 2017; and the multifamily housing lot, duplex with a rear single-family house, respectively at 141 and 141 ½ Rampart was last sold on January 4, 2018, per Refin online realty agency. Yet, tenants have not been given notice of these dealings pertaining to their place of residence.
Thus far, both the prior and the new owners have kept tenants in a precarious situation.
Nick Hendricks, Deputy Advisory Agency, conducted the hearing. Present at the table were Julia Li from Engineering, Francis Akpanokon, Street Lighting, and Michelle Carter, Planning Assistant.
15 to 20 people attended the hearing. The tenants present were bewildered as to the validity of the statements exchanged between Hendricks and Mathew Hayden representative for the new owner, Neighborhood Partners 21, LLC.
Statements were contrary to the data displayed in the online Planning Department’s database: “I just want to confirm that the separate garages are most likely unpermitted and people are living there unlawfully,” said Hendricks. Hayden agreed with Hendrix about 141 N, Rampart being not a multifamily dwelling. He said, “There are possibly unlawful units that are being occupied.”
Presently, Planning Department’s database provides details of the two existing 1910-buildings at 141 N Rampart Blvd, Zoned R3-1: Building -1 is one unit comprised of 360 square feet with 2-bedrooms, 1-bathroom. Building-2 contains two units, covering 2,634 square feet with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, per Zimas.lacity.org.
In addition, a 1963-certificate of occupancy was issued for the two-story, single- family dwelling and three guestrooms at 141 N Rampart Blvd. In the same year, a second Certificate of Occupancy with a distinct address was issued for 141 ½ N. Rampart Boulevard for a single-family dwelling with a two-car garage on first floor, LADBS Archives.
According to HUD’s Fair Housing Act, three people are permitted to live in a 1-bedroom unit, and 5 people in a two-bedroom unit. Thus, 15 people may possibly be allowed to live on that site lawfully, per the Fair Housing Act.
At this time, there is no application for demolition on file, and Hendricks said that project would take a little to get through the process since applicant is pursuing a Vesting Tentative Tract Map, for the joining and subdivision of two lots into 10-Small Lots. Hendricks approved the project with no objection from city officials sitting at the table with him. He would leave project file open, for several days, for further public comment before formal approval.
Immediately after the Public Hearing in the hallway of city hall, Michael Castillo, whose family members have been renting the lower unit at 141 Rampart since the 1970’s, said in disappointment, “I guess we need to educate ourselves on the process and move forward.”
While, Ida Carlos, also a resident who has been living in the same house, upstairs unit, for ten years, said with concern, “We find here at the hearing that property has been sold.”
Since the hearing, tenants of 141 Rampart have made contact with the Los Angeles Housing and Investment Department (HCID).
Connie Acosta is a member of the Los Angeles Press Club, and the co-chair of the Planning and Land Use Committee of the Echo Park Neighborhood Council.