Opposition continues to a proposed rezoning of the Lincoln Place apartment complex in Venice.

Tenants claim that the Lincoln Place owner — AIMCO (Apartment Investment Management Company) — wants to rezone the 38-acre parcel bounded by Penmar Avenue and Lake and Frederick Streets in Venice.

But AIMCO officials are declining to reveal details of what they want to do with the property, other than to say the company has “continued to work on rezoning the Lincoln Place property,” in its fourth-quarter 2004 earnings release dated Wednesday, February 9th.

When the complex was built in 1949-51, Lincoln Place comprised 52 apartment building blocks with 795 units.

Patty Shwayder, senior vice president for Colorado-based AIMCO, said the company has not released its overall plans for Lincoln Place, but continues to pursue rezoning the property, which is “extremely old and has a lot of capital and maintenance needs.”

“We’re continuing to review our options on zoning,” Shwayder said.

AIMCO purchased the property more than a year ago.

Tenants alleged that the company has been proposing to remove all of the tenants, demolish the apartment buildings and build as many as 1,200 new units.

Jan Book, a Lincoln Place tenant of 20 years, said that after AIMCO purchased the property, company representatives met with some tenant groups and discussed plans to demolish units.

The company proposed leaving 200 current units and building up to 1,000 new units, she claimed.

Laura Burns, also a Lincoln Place tenant, said that in a February 2004 conference call AIMCO described the property as having the potential for 1,300 newly built units.

In order for AIMCO to accommodate a possible 1,300 units, the property would have to be rezoned because the property is currently zoned for a maximum of 795 units, Book said.

Rezoning of the Lincoln Place parcel has been opposed by many tenants as well as each of the three candidates seeking the local Los Angeles City Council 11th District seat — Flora Gil Krisiloff, Angela Reddock and Bill Rosendahl.

“I am shocked and disturbed by reports of a planned rezoning of Lincoln Place,” Rosendahl said. “I am further disturbed that the reported proposal would practically double the density of the property.”

“Rezoning of the Lincoln Place Apartments is out of the question,” Reddock said.

“I completely oppose the rezoning of the Lincoln Place apartments in Venice,” Krisiloff said.

“Lincoln Place apartments deserve their place in our city’s history and their rightful status as one of Los Angeles’ protected monuments,” Krisiloff added.

All three council candidates are also in support of the historic preservation of the Lincoln Place apartment complex.

Burns said tenants are pleased to know that whichever candidate wins the council seat, the councilmember will support the fight to keep Lincoln Place a historic piece of property and stop the rezoning.

“I think it’s wonderful,” she said. “They all get it and understand the specialness of it (Lincoln Place).”

Amanda Seward, a preservationist and a member of the Los Angeles Conservancy, filed the applications for Lincoln Place to be considered for the state and national register of historic places.

Lincoln Place has been found eligible by the state to be listed on the National Register.

But when the application was sent to the Keeper of the National Register in Washington, D.C., the application was “returned for more information” because of pressure put on by the former owner of the property, Seward alleged.

Seward is in the process of resubmitting the National Register application.

The application for the California Register of Historical Resources was scheduled to be considered this month, but was postponed until Thursday, May 12th.

Approval of Lincoln Place on either the state or the national registers would require AIMCO to prepare an environmental impact report (EIR) if the company wanted to demolish any more of the property, Seward said.

“It doesn’t mean they can’t do it; they’ll just have to go through more hoops,” she said.

Some of the Lincoln Place complex has already been impacted.

Seven buildings and 95 apartment units have been demolished, Seward said.

Any further demolition of the property has been halted pending the outcome of two lawsuits filed against the City of Los Angeles, which are scheduled to be heard in appellate court in June.

In one lawsuit, the Lincoln Place Tenants Association sued concerning the November 2002 certification of the EIR — which was prepared in 1993 — and the approval of a tentative tract map of the property, Book said.

The other lawsuit — filed by several preservationist groups, including the Los Angeles Conservancy — challenges the city’s issuance of demolition permits, which was based on a finding that there was no substantial evidence that Lincoln Place is a historical resource, Seward said.

Although the lawsuits may halt current demolition at Lincoln Place, AIMCO is still working on removing the tenants, with the help of a relocation company, Shober-Livas Relocation.

AIMCO hired Shober-Livas in September to offer a relocation package to tenants instead of invoking the state Ellis Act, which allows landlords to go out of the rental business, Shwayder said.

“The idea was to work with residents to find a place to relocate that was suitable for them,” Shwayder said. “It’s a more generous package we offer.

“We want to be as flexible and helpful as possible.”

Bob Shober of Shober-Livas said the AIMCO relocation package gives tenants “benefits far beyond” what they would receive under the Ellis Act.

“We’re strong advocates for it,” Shober said. “It offers substantially more money and more options.”

Shober-Livas has sent fliers since October to Lincoln Place tenants informing tenants about the benefits of the relocation offer.

In the AIMCO package, tenants can receive $5,000, plus $1,500 for moving expenses and free rent for the last month, and they can choose the time to move until Wednesday, June 1st, he said.

Seniors and disabled tenants can receive $10,000, plus $1,500 for moving expenses and the last month’s free rent, he said.

Since Shober-Livas was hired, between one-third and one-half of the tenants in the remaining 350 occupied units have accepted the offer, Shober said.

Shwayder said AIMCO is still considering when to invoke the Ellis Act to remove the remaining tenants.

Although some tenants have chosen to go with the AIMCO package and relocate, Burns said about 200 tenants are “hardcore” about staying at Lincoln Place and will do what it takes to keep their apartments.

While the future of the current Lincoln Place complex may depend on the two pending lawsuits, the tenants and the 11th District candidates intend to preserve the unique residential section of the city, Burns said.

“It’s a wonderful, pristine piece of property,” Book said.

“This is absolutely the best style of architecture from the post-war era,” Burns said. “This needs to be preserved.”

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