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20-yr-old landlord-tenant dispute settled

May 26, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The L.A. City Council has ratified a deal to end a 20-year landlord dispute in Venice. Scores of tenants were evacuated five years ago at the Lincoln Place Apartments in a battle over rent. "I think we're all smiling including the community around us," said tenant Ingred Mueller.

Mueller is one of a dozen Lincoln Place tenants who survived a 20-year legal battle against the owners of the 38-acre property.

The battle included the sheriffs and forced evictions of more than 300 households.

"We knew we were kind of on the good side of the fight and we never gave up," said Mueller.

Wednesday, dozens of Lincoln Place tenants celebrated having won the fight to preserve Lincoln Place for low income housing.

"The agreement calls for a sustainable low impact development that has only the number of units that were always there, 765 just like they were built in 1950. This is the kind of housing that was intended to be dignity for working people on a budget," said Sheila Bernard, the president of the Lincoln Place Tenants Association.

However, property owners AIMCO want a little something in this agreement, too. They want the go-ahead for a multimillion dollar renovation plan that had been stalled by litigation for years. The new settlement allows AIMCO to upgrade existing rent control units and build 99 new apartments on three vacant Lincoln Place lots. The $130 million project also promises to bring hundreds of new jobs.

"600 good jobs, construction jobs people who do the rehab work, people who do the garden work, people who do the interior work. Those are all well paying jobs. Those trades are 30, 40 percent out of work right now. It will put them back to work right away," said L.A.'s First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner.

But tenants say that the best news is that some of the evicted 83 original Lincoln Place residents will get to move back in.

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