The residents of Barrington Plaza aren’t going down without a fight, and they are making their voices heard loud and clear.
Several community organizations focused on housing and renter’s rights joined residents of the Barrington Plaza apartment complex at the Santa Monica headquarters of complex landlord Douglas Emmett last Thursday. The landlord is looking to evict the entirety of the building under the Ellis Act to install fire sprinklers after several fires have plagued the building in recent years. But residents have filed suit in response.
Former Santa Monica Mayor Denny Zane, who is also the Executive Director of Move L.A. and the co-chair of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, told Westside Voice that the success of the suit is crucial for renters’ rights.
“It’s appalling,” Zane said of Douglas Emmett’s attempted eviction. “The people who are there now, what will happen to them?”
“Douglas Emmett, you can’t hide, all you do is gentrify” rang through the air, and honks of support from passing by cars were common as people responded to a sign that read “Honk if you support tenant rights.”
With Coalition for Economic Survival Executive Director Larry Gross at the helm of the protest, several speakers from organizations across the city of Los Angeles spoke in support of the renters and keeping them in their Barrington Plaza units. Many of them criticized Douglas Emmett, accusing them of greed and selfishness.
“There’s no reason this corporation should be allowed to do this and skirt the law,” said a speaker with the organization Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE). “It will happen again and again and again.”
As the protest was occurring, several people emerged from inside the building to take a closer listen. From atop an array of staircases that lead to a small outdoor plaza outside the building’s entrance, several people took notice of the protesters and lingered to listen in on the noise. Cries of “What if it was your kids?” and “Shame on you” poured in from the protest in response.
While most of these listeners did not interact with the crowd, one was seen taunting the crowd with demonstrations of laughter and various hand gestures, including cupping a hand to his ear as a protester directly yelled in his direction.
After the main demonstration was complete, two blown-up letters put onto signs were brought out. The first was a copy of the eviction notice sent to residents at the complex with a big red stamp that read “Invalid” placed over the body of the letter. “We, the tenants of Barrington Plaza Apartments declare your eviction notice invalid and in violation of the Ellis Act,” is printed in red letters directly below the notice.
The second is a letter from the Barrington Plaza tenants addressed to Douglas Emmett President/CEO Jordan Kaplan and Board Chairman Dan A. Emmett, imploring the firm to cease the evictions at Barrington Plaza. It notes that some of the residents being evicted are dealing with debilitating conditions like dementia and cancer, while others do not drive and need to be close to where they work.
“For all of us, the impending eviction and relocation would be devastating,” the letter reads.
With these cutouts in hand, the crowd of several dozen people marched to the front entrance of the Douglas Emmett building, which was locked to outside access. Chants of “Hell no, we won’t go” erupted for several minutes outside the entrance.
After the protest returned to the sidewalk in front of the building and began to wind down, a pair of police officers arrived on the scene at the call of the people within the Douglas Emmett building. The interaction was peaceful and entirely uneventful, with the officers explaining that the protesters had done nothing wrong, but that the people inside may have had a fear due to “past experiences.”
The next stage in the Barrington Plaza case unfolds today at 1:30 p.m. as an L.A. Superior Court judge rules on whether or not Barrington Plaza residents should receive an injunction while their lawsuit plays out, keeping residents in their homes for the time being.
Photo taken by the author