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AIDS Healthcare Foundation sues to block housing projects

LOS ANGELES — The AIDS Healthcare Foundation filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court Aug. 8 against the city and four large housing complexes in Hollywood, claiming they violate both federal and state housing laws by out-pricing the local market.

“Hollywood is the epicenter of homelessness, and that homelessness is being caused by gentrification,” AHF President Michael Weinstein said. “City Council and the mayor believe in trickle-down housing, meaning that if you build all this luxury housing, it’ll make everything cheaper, and that’s the opposite of what’s going on.”

The lawsuit focuses on the aspects of the fair housing laws because, AHF alleges, the projects will eliminate affordable housing for people who work in the area, and a large portion of that base is Latino.

“This is very much a civil rights battle. It’s a battle to end the discrimination against working people, specifically in the Hollywood community against Latinos,” Weinstein said.

The developments AHF is suing are:

• The Sunset Gordon Tower on Sunset Boulevard, a 22-story complex, which AHF says offers almost all market-rate apartments by development company CIM, has been sitting vacant for three years after a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge retroactively invalidated the project’s construction permits.

• The Hollywood Palladium Residences, by developer Crescent Heights, proposes to build twin 28-story towers that will house 730 residential units with 5% of units set aside for people making up to 150% of median income.

• Crossroads Hollywood, by Harridge Development Group, would demolish more than 80 units of current rent-stabilized housing, according to AHF. The project is set to include 905 apartments and condos in three high-rise buildings, 308 hotel rooms and 190,000 square feet of retail space.

• An unnamed 26-story, 200-unit residential and commercial development that provides almost no below-market housing by GPI Companies for the site of Amoeba Music on Sunset Boulevard.

Calls to CIM and Crescent Heights and an email sent to Harridge Development Group were not immediately returned.

Cliff Goldstein of GPI Companies told the Los Angeles Times in July that the groups’ concerns have already been considered by the city regarding the amount of affordable housing on the project slated to replace Amoeba Music.

“It is a project that we’re proud of,” Goldstein said. “It’s new housing that is near transit. No housing is being taken away. And not only is housing badly needed in the city, this project provides some additional benefits in the sustainability area.”

AHF is also suing to prevent construction of the projects, including any demolition of existing structures and/or other site preparations.

The foundation has sued these developers before but over land rights issues. AHF already lost an appeal against the development of the Crossroads. It is currently appealing the Hollywood Palladium Residences, and the Amoeba Music building and Sunset Gordon Tower lawsuits were only recently submitted and no action has been taken on them yet, AHF attorney Liza Brereton said.

“The goal isn’t to file lawsuits; our goal is to provide housing, and we desperately call on the mayor and the City Council to stop going in the direction they’re going,” Weinstein said. “It’s a desperate situation, and yet, this is business as usual.”

The AHF offered to buy the Sunset Gordon Tower in May for $50 million, according to Business Wire. The foundation in recent years committed to addressing housing needs for people as well as its endeavors to fund AIDS medicine to places in need.