LA City Council motion would try to keep Westwood seniors in their retirement home

LOS ANGELES — As part of a fight to stop dozens of seniors from being evicted from their Westwood retirement home, the Los Angeles City Council is scheduled to vote today on a motion that seeks to designate the facility a residential hotel.The motion,...

LA City Council motion would try to keep Westwood seniors in their retirement home

LOS ANGELES — As part of a fight to stop dozens of seniors from being evicted from their Westwood retirement home, the Los Angeles City Council is scheduled to vote today on a motion that seeks to designate the facility a residential hotel.

The motion, which was introduced last week by Councilman Paul Koretz, would direct the city’s Housing and Community Investment Department to report back within two weeks on making the determination, which could make the property ineligible for the Ellis Act evictions the property’s owner is seeking and require an alternative approach to renovating the building, according to Koretz’s office.

The Ellis Act is a provision in California law that provides landlords with a legal way to get out of the rental market business.

Only the Housing and Community Investment Department can make the determination if the property is a residential hotel, and not the council, according to Koretz’s office.

In November, Watermark Retirement Communities served eviction notices to the residents of Vintage Westwood Apartments at 947 Tiverton Ave., with residents being told they would have a year to vacate the property.

Watermark wants to complete a $50 million renovation and convert the building into a residential care facility with assisted living. The current facility is unlicensed and does not provide health care options.

The residents can move back in at the same rental rate, Watermark has said, and residents will also be paid up to $19,700 per unit for moving costs -- an amount required under the Rent Stabilization Act.

Koretz has been scathing in his criticism of Watermark, calling it a “greedy corporation.” He also started a pressure campaign in December by publicly releasing the names and contact information of Watermark’s top executives and asking supporters to “pressure these faceless, heartless wheeler-dealers by calling, emailing and mailing to express your outrage.”

A December motion introduced by Koretz also asked multiple city departments to examine ways to stop the evictions. Watermark President David Barnes said last week Westwood Horizons does not fit the designation of a residential hotel and that Koretz’s motion “is nothing more than a delay tactic.”

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