The County Small Craft Harbor Commission approved three items of business, subject to approval by the County Board of Supervisors, and heard from the Kingswood Village Apartments tenants and tenant advocates regarding allegations of “extreme post-renovation rent increases, and redevelopment-related evictions based on an arbitrary system” at its meeting Wednesday morning, June 9th.

Small Craft Harbor Commission chairman Harley Searcy told a group of Kingswood Village Apartments tenants that the commission didn’t know about what some Kingswood tenants alleged to be “extreme” post-renovation rent increases by Archstone-Smith Operating Trust — the new management company of the apartment complex.

The comment was made by Searcy after allegations by a tenant, who said, “Someone (county officials) was very dumb, or getting paid off, or there’s a third reason.

Searcy said that if any tenant gets notification of a post-renovation rent increase, he and the commission want to be notified immediately, and to get a copy of such notices.

Allegations by tenants of renovation work being done by Archstone without posted permits, code violations, and eviction of residents for retaliatory reasons caused commissioner Russ Lesser to say that work without permits at the Kingswood Village Apartments would be addressed, as would any other code violations not corrected.

Lesser wants the county to check the Archstone remodeling schedule. Commenting that the rents had not been increased in ten to 15 years, audience members shouted, “That’s not true.”

There’s an “awful lot of smoke, let’s find out what’s going on,” said Lesser, to audience applause.

The County of Los Angeles had recently signed a 20-year lease with Archstone to manage the property, and one tenant who currently pays $1,800 said she was told her rent after renovation would be $3,700.

One speaker said the commission was responsible for keeping track of fair market value for properties, and controlling fair rents.

Another asserted that the county supposedly approves the rents before the tenants are notified, and the commission should have been aware of the steep increases.

Commission member Roger Moliere countered that the county doesn’t preapprove rents, and that there is a review process for inappropriate increases.

The commission was asked where the county’s fiduciary responsibility is to the tenants of Kingswood Village Apartments.

A second tenant who moved to Marina del Rey recently from Hermosa Beach is a teacher, and rents a one-bedroom apartment.

She said she wasn’t told about the renovation when she moved in, and that was later told that her current rent of $1,400 would go up to $2,170 after renovation.

The Argonaut contacted Archstone but had not received a response by press time.

OTHER COMMISSION

BUSINESS — A request to release a Request for Proposal for parcel 83S in Marina del Rey was approved by the commission.

The project is for “visitor serving uses” for the parcel at Fiji and Admiralty Ways.

For Parcel 10R, Neptune Marina, the commission approved continued negotiations with Legacy Partners Neptune Marina L.P. to purchase the leasehold and redevelop the parcel.

MARINA CITY CLUB — The commission approved an amendment that would allow use of accumulated rent payments due the county by Marina City Club for deferred maintenance of Marina City Club structures, and provide a “revenue-neutral” mechanism for the repayment to the county of such funds, with interest.

The proposed amendment provides a one-time opportunity for holders of condominium subleases (condominium sublessees) to modify the terms of their condo subleases to provide:

— a temporary freeze on annual increases in rent due the county;

— a fixed (rather than the current variable) increase in payments due the county in future years;

— a mechanism for utilization of certain accumulated rents paid to the county to address the funding of infrastructure and capital improvements relating to leasehold facilities; and

— a mechanism for repayment to the county of advanced and deferred rent amounts, with interest, according to Marina City Club L.P.

Some condo owners,including former Los Angeles City Councilman Nate Holden, were opposed to the plan, saying that there are no benefits to the plan, and that management has a responsibility to fix maintenance problems previously in existence.

“Whether or not we (condo owners) select the program, we will remain responsible for existing fees and sub-fees,” said Holden.

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