Residents of a Boyle Heights apartment building who claim they are being displaced to make way for the development of high-end, luxury dwellings are protesting their impending eviction.
Some of the residents at the building at 1815 East 2nd Street who reportedly received eviction notices last week are musicians who earn their living seeking gigs at nearby Mariachi Plaza. Ironically, developers have begun to promote the residential building as the high-end “Mariachi Crossing” apartments.
In January, seven of the building tenants received notice of rent increases ranging from 60 to 80% –as much as $800 a month increase in one reported case– going into effect April 1.
In April, the residents refused to pay the rent increase and have since sought a meeting to negotiate a lower rent increase with owner Frank BJ Turner, who bought the building in December, 2016. According to local tenants’ rights group Unión de Vecinos, representatives from building management Crescent Canyon finally agreed to a meeting last week, but only agreed to meet with them individually and not as a group. When the tenants’ refused, Unión de Vecinos says, they were served with eviction notices.
The tenants, members of Unión de Vecinos and their allies are planning a protest in front of the building on Wednesday, June 28, at 6 p.m.
The building does not fall under rent-control measures because it was built after 1978. According to data provided by Councilman José Huízar, 75% of Boyle Heights residents are renters and 88% of them are protected by rent-control.
On Tuesday, Boyle Heights Beat was unable to reach Turner or the management company. In April, Turner refused to speak to LA Weekly about the rent increases, but the management company released a statement saying it had made a number of improvements to the property since the beginning of the year, including new air conditioning units, new fencing and gates and a new on-site laundry facility.
Since then, developers have rebranded the apartment building as “Mariachi Crossing”, according to LAist offering a one-bedroom refurbished apartment on Craiglist for as much as $1,625 a month.
According to the luxury apartments’ website, “Mariachi Crossing lies in the heart of Boyle Heights, only 5 minutes to the Arts District and 10 minutes to DTLA. Very close to stores, main streets, schools and convenient access to the 5, 10 and 60 FWY, it’s an ideal central location for commuters or those who take the metro to work.”
The site shows a picture of a sparsely decorated apartment, with white walls and white furnishings and hardwood floors and goes on to say that “newly renovated with all new stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, a dining room, large closet with mirrored sliders and expansive bedroom space, this apartment also features laundry on site and gated parking.”
According to Unión de Vecinos, only one apartment in the building is vacant. Elizabeth Blaney, co-director of Unión de Vecinos told LA Curbed in April that about one-third of the tenants in the 25-unit building are rented by mariachis.
In a press release, Unión de Vecinos say that the mariachis facing eviction are also threatened with losing their livelihood. “As is the custom of a mariachi, to get work, you need to live nearby to Mariachi Plaza,” says the release. “If the mariachis lose their home, they also lose their jobs. The Mariachis are fighting back against harassment and unreasonable rent increases. All of us need and deserve a home!”
Photo above: The apartment building on East 2nd Street and a screenshot of website showing Mariachi Crossing apartment.