Chinatown landlord gearing for ugly battle with city over rising rents

"It makes me feel like I’m in Cuba or Venezuela or Sudan but certainly not the United States," said Tom Botz. He’s a local landlord who’s had enough with the demands of the City of L.A.

Botz is gearing for an ugly battle.

"I’ve been through many fights in my life and one more is not gonna hurt me," said Botz.

He’s upset with Councilman Gil Cedillo who is proposing eminent domain and ceasing The Hillside Villa Apartments in Chinatown to prevent Botz from increasing the rents on the tenants of 51 units. He said, "It’s a taking for just compensation and for the greater good, and the greater good is not to displace tenants who’ve paid their rent for last 30 years."

In 1986,  Botz entered into an agreement with the City of L.A. to keep the rents at affordable prices for 30 years.  That agreement has expired which means Botz can legally increase the rates.

"The 30 years are up. We’re supposed to put the rents at market, that’s what we planned on," said Botz. 

The covenants for more than 11,000 units in Los Angeles are also expiring and that has the city extremely concerned.

"It’s gonna be a tsunami of displacements. There could be 10,000 people displaced as the covenants run out in the city. We can not build our way out of this frankly," Cedillo said.

Meanwhile, Botz tells FOX 11, "I think we’ve done enough. We’ve given a notice, the rents are going up September 1."

Rene Alexander, the President of the Hillside Villa Tenants Association says families will face eviction because they won’t be able to pay double and some cases, triple the amount of rent.

"I just can’t fathom why someone would be so cruel," said Alexander.

Cedillo tells FOX 11 that the city is making Botz a good offer and if he turns it down, eminent domain is a possibility.

"We have a right to exercise and utilize the law to protect the tenants of this city. We’re in a housing crisis and we need to recognize that," Cedillo said.