Less than a block north of the Highland Park Gold Line station, there’s a fence around an empty 18-unit apartment building that hasn’t done much to keep it from getting pretty badly tagged up. Tenants were told in August that they had 90 days to get out; the building had been sold and the new owners wanted the place emptied out, says the Eastsider LA. Everyone assumes it’s another sign of HLP’s rapid gentrification, but it hasn’t taken long for the complex to start looking like the polar opposite. There’s no sign of renovations in progress at the property on Avenue 57, except that the graffiti on the fencing sometimes gets painted over by city services. That’s the worst case scenario, but it’s not the only building in the neighborhood that’s kicked out all its tenants.
Two blocks west, on Avenue 55, a similar eviction scenario went down at a 12-unit building right next to the train tracks, though this one has already been repainted a deep forest green and is actively undergoing remodeling. The building on Avenue 57 sold for $2.4 million; the one on Avenue 55 sold for more than $2 million. One would think that both buyers would be really eager to get the buildings spruced up and have new tenants coming in, but it seems that’s only half true.
Because they were built between the late 1980s and the early 1990s, neither of the buildings was rent-controlled (the laws only apply to buildings built before 1978), but they were both still pretty affordable. One of the tenants at the Avenue 57 building—owner of a computer repair business tucked into the Highland Swap Meet just a few blocks from his old apartment—was paying an amazing $850 for a two-bedroom. There are very few (if any) places to be found anymore for those prices in Northeast LA, or in the whole of LA, where there just so happens to be a truly dire housing affordability problem. Perhaps for that reason, this same tenant dipped into his savings and moved his family into the Highland Hotel.
Of course, buildings that are not under rent control change hands and new owners have the right to do whatever they want with their properties, including ask everyone to leave in 90 days. Nothing that happened here was illegal, reps for both the Coalition for Economic Survival and the Housing Department confirm. But it is definitely intensely sad, and it embodies the worst fears of basically ever renter. Evictions like these fomented last month’s gentrification protests on York Boulevard and Figueroa Streets, says ELA.