Councilwoman Seeks to Safeguard Relocation Benefits for Barrington Tenants

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Following Monday's announcement that the owners of Barrington Plaza Apartments will remove all units from the rental market for a sprinkler retrofit -- and force current tenants to relocate -- City Councilwoman Traci Park filed a motion today seeking to provide tenants relocation benefits and, if possible, the right to return.

``I am deeply committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all Barrington Plaza Apartments tenants during this critical time,'' Park, whose district includes the apartment complex, said in a statement. ``I am working closely with the mayor's team and our housing department to ensure that each resident is protected and the letter of the law is followed.''

The Barrington apartments have been the scene of two fires over the past decade, including one that killed a 19-year-old foreign exchange student. Hundreds of people will be forced to vacate the complex by September. Located at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Barrington Avenue in West Los Angeles, eight floors in one of the complex's three towers have been red-tagged and out of service since the most recent fire in January 2020. According to the building owners, renovation plans were submitted to the city later that year, but the city's approval was conditioned on installation of sprinklers and other ``life-safety equipment'' throughout all three towers.

According to Barrington Plaza, there are currently 577 occupied units in the complex. Current residents were given notice that they need to vacate by Sept. 5. However, some residents may qualify for extensions based on their length of residency, their age or if they are legally handicapped. The building owners said they will make relocation specialists available to assist residents with finding new places to live. In October 2013, a fire erupted on the 11th floor of one of the complex's towers, injuring two people, including a young girl, and displacing 100-150 residents. In January 2020, a fire began on the seventh floor, killing a 19-year-old exchange student from France and injuring about a dozen others, including three firefighters and a 3-month-old child.

Barrington Plaza was built in 1961, prior to the 1974 ordinance requiring sprinklers in new high-rise buildings. Park's motion seeks to guarantee fair and equitable relocation services for all residents. She has requested to establish a right-to-return process, if applicable, to ensure that all tenants receive the benefits and rights to which they are entitled under city code. ``I will continue to closely monitor the relocation process for everyone involved,'' Park said.  Her motion also calls for the housing department and other related departments to report every 30 days on the status of the Ellis Act process and relocation of tenants. The Ellis Act is a state law that provides landlords with a legal way to move units out of the rental market.

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