Homes Not Hotels: Standoff in Hollywood
“It’s my building. I can do whatever I want.”
That’s how the owner of 1719-1731 Whitley Ave in Hollywood responded when a LA Tenants Union member informed him that he couldn’t barge into his tenants’ units and remove their ovens without their permission. It was rude and aggressive and entitled, and not at all surprising. Landlords are accustomed to being in total control and often react badly when challenged or told “no.”
This particular landlord has been trying to evict the tenants from their rent-stabilized apartments and convert their building into a hotel (which is legal under the Ellis Act). Now that the tenants are fighting back, he’s angry and doing everything he can to make their lives and struggle even more difficult, including removing their ovens. In addition to being disruptive and inconvenient, removing tenants’ four-burner ovens and replacing them with table-top burners would allow him to exploit another legal loophole in his quest to evict everyone and demolish the building.
If you aren’t familiar with the laws and statutes governing eviction in the case of four-burner ovens versus two-burner stoves, you’re not alone. There are so many laws like this on the books, all incredibly arcane and stupid, and all designed to benefit the ruling class. People like this landlord know that these laws are designed to work in their favor, and demoralize and confuse anyone who doesn’t have as much money or power as they do.
Time is also an operative resource here. The landlord gave the tenants (inadequate and illegal) notice of his intention to remove their ovens…between the hours of 10am and 4pm. But instead of backing down, the Whitley tenants banded together and had a standoff. As a result, their landlord wasn’t able to carry out his plan, but it’s important to recognize the sacrifices they all made to be there, for themselves and each other. And not just on this one day but every day that they spend defending their homes and fighting these bullshit evictions. Every minute that tenants have to spend decoding these laws and fending off sneaky, predatory tactics is time they could be spending at work, with their families, taking care of their health – literally anything else.
This isn’t to paint the Whitley tenants as victims but rather to acknowledge their incredible strength and solidarity. Seeing them show up for each other is a reminder that when tenants fight evictions collectively, they’re not just defending their homes but their communities. And witnessing these tenants fight tooth and nail, while elected officials claim to be “stunned” by the rise in homelessness and bureaucrats shrug their shoulders ineffectually, makes it clear which side is poised to win.
For more information on the Homes Not Hotels campaign, including specific demands in Hollywood: httpss://nolympicsla.com/homes-not-hotels
To join the Los Angeles Tenants Union: httpss://latenantsunion.org/en/product/join/