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Chinatown apartment at risk of eminent domain

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2022 | Eminent Domain

Residents of a Southern California Chinatown apartment complex face the risk of losing their leases. City leaders want to buy the building to prevent this from happening, but the owner isn’t interested.

What’s happening with the apartment complex?

City leaders have made an offer of $46 million to the owner of the Chinatown apartment complex that is located in Los Angeles. While this was said to be a solution to tenants losing their leases, the owner of the complex has rejected the offer.

The apartment complex dates back to the 1980s and was created to provide affordable housing to people with lower incomes. Unfortunately, the contract to keep rents low recently expired, leaving tenants with rent hikes ranging up to 300%.

What are the city leaders’ plans?

Advocates for the tenants tried to reason with the building owner for two years but got nowhere. They’re now urging city council members to force the owner to sell the building through eminent domain. One councilman stated that they might have no other choice if it means ensuring reinstating affordable rents for tenants with low incomes who are at risk of losing their homes.

The councilman pointed out that the use of eminent domain procedures has protected public projects but stressed the importance of preserving affordable housing for those who need it most.

The building owner’s attorney stated that the plan was wasteful and that the value of the apartment complex is $11 million more than what the city is offering. He claimed that 37 households out of the 124 face eviction due to rent increases but that other tenants are on Section 8 vouchers for rental assistance.

However, tenants of the building are enthusiastic about the city buying it. One tenant stated that he received a notice of a rent increase of over $1,200, which is too high for his family.