The Face Of The Ellis Act

Nathan Marsak

Nathan Marsak

· 3 min read
The Face Of The Ellis Act

Ah, you thought you were going to see the faces of those souls cast into the streets by the Ellis Act. Well this isn’t that kind of blog. I show you pictures of threatened buildings, not threatened people. But this is Los Angeles, and the lines blur. You can’t talk about buildings without making mention of their Angelenos. Or the developers who buy and sell them. The buildings, I mean. Not the people.

Of developers, specifically, I’m interested in TriWest. They came to my attention in that they purchased four complexes (I’m told more like a dozen, but these are the ones I was hipped to) from which they are evicting tenants under the Ellis Act; this resulted in a brouhaha where activists marched on Councilmember O’Farrell’s office, and (by all accounts) O’Farrell ran and hid; State Rep Wendy Carillo, though, agreed to meet activists “in two weeks.” You can read about it here.

Here are the structures:

1428 N. Micheltorena Street four standalone buildings each with two units, and a six-bay garage in the back, built in 1923.

Now that’s _bungalow court living.

Nice brugmansia.

The Del Vera Court, per a May 1925 ad in the LA Times

2135 West Bellevue, a twelve-unit apartment building with four-car garage below, designed by J. H. Lehman in 1959.

Dingbat anna half, or would you call it half-dingbat?

What’s the surface of this thing? Moon rock? Lava? Moon lava?

Kidney-shaped pool? Sign me up!

3616 W. Marcia Drive, a four-unit apartment house designed by Herman Goodman in 1962.

I dig the diamond pattern on the railing, and the contra-functional shutters on the windows. Note too the hedges cut like bonsai.

Here’s 3616 after the realtors removed its defining features (although mysteriously, they kept the staggered lettering). Apparently it worked, because they sold it to TriWest. I supposed stripped and painted grey gave it “curb appeal.” Every time I hear curb appeal I reach for my revolver.

1126 W. Edgeware, twelve-room quadruplex designed in 1931 by architect David Berniker.

Now here’s something I don’t get—1126 sold on Dec 7, 2018 for $1,553,500, then sold again in April for $535,000, 198% below its listing price of $1.59—granted, I don’t know anything about flipping, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how you do it.

The question then, is, what would become of these buildings? Under the Ellis Act, post-eviction, TriWest could either turn them into market rate/luxury units after five years of sitting vacant, or simply demolish and rebuild as luxury condos. Needless to say, we’ll be keeping an eye on these. Most developers choose to demolish. Some are stopped in their tracks. For more on the subject read this.

As for the people? Some of these folk’ve been there nigh on forty years, and when they’re removed, where will they go to pay $500 a month rent? Sounds like they’ll end up homeless. Well at least the billions from Prop 63 and Measure H and Prop HHH will help these folk, right? Right?

Nathan Marsak

About Nathan Marsak

NATHAN MARSAK says: “I came to praise Los Angeles, not to bury her. And yet developers, City Hall and social reformers work in concert to effect wholesale demolition, removing the human scale of my town, tossing its charm into a landfill. The least I can do is memorialize in real time those places worth noting, as they slide inexorably into memory. In college I studied under Banham. I learned to love Los Angeles via Reyner’s teachings (and came to abjure Mike Davis and his lurid, fanciful, laughably-researched assertions). In grad school I focused on visionary urbanism and technological utopianism—so while some may find the premise of preserving communities so much ill-considered reactionary twaddle, at least I have a background in the other side. Anyway, I moved to Los Angeles, and began to document. I drove about shooting neon signs. I put endless miles across the Plains of Id on the old Packard as part of the 1947project; when Kim Cooper blogged about some bad lunch meat in Compton, I drove down to there to check on the scene of the crime (never via freeway—you can’t really learn Los Angeles unless you study her from the surface streets). But in short order one landmark after another disappeared. Few demolitions are as contentious or high profile as the Ambassador or Parker Center; rather, it is all the little houses and commercial buildings the social engineers are desperate to destroy in the name of the Greater Good. The fabric of our city is woven together by communities and neighborhoods who no longer have a say in their zoning or planning so it’s important to shine a light on these vanishing treasures, now, before the remarkable character of our city is wiped away like a stain from a countertop. (But Nathan, you say, it’s just this one house—no, it isn’t. Principiis obsta, finem respice.) And who knows, one might even be saved. Excelsior!””
Nathan’s blogs are: Bunker Hill Los Angeles, RIP Los Angeles & On Bunker Hill.

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