Condo Owners vs. Rent-controlled apartment dwellers

By Deborah Goonan

In the Los Angeles Bunker Hill community, condo owners and traditional apartment dwellers have been locked in a 3-year long legal battle over their once-shared pool and barbecue area, with no end in sight.

The two articles referenced below explain some of the details of how the dispute began, but, in short, there has been a disagreement over cost-sharing of recent improvements made to the pool area. A few years ago, the Bunker Hill Tower condo association dictated expensive changes, apparently without agreement from the apartment owner, Essex Property Trust. Essex objected, refusing to pay for the renovations. The owner of the 2 apartment buildings has been paying two-thirds of maintenance costs since the 1980s, following the condo conversion of one of the three original buildings. 

As of today, the condo association has installed a fence around the pool to lock out the tenants. At the same time, the owner of the 2 rent-controlled apartment buildings (that were never converted to condos) is planning to build a separate pool and common space on the roof of the parking garage that serves tenants.

What I find intriguing about this situation: the conflict is between a Condo Association and non-members of the Association. Ironically, even if you’re the type of person that purposely avoids condominiums, because you don’t particularly like the fact that your neighbors can tell you what you can and cannot do, you cannot always escape the condo conflict madness that is encroaching upon residents in surrounding dwellings! 

Sometimes an Association-Governed Residential Community Board over steps its authority and attempts to impose its rules or its ideas of aesthetic appeal on its neighbors. In this case, the Condo Association decided that everyone, including Essex Property Trust, should want to invest in a resort-style pool renovation. Perhaps a more basic face lift would have been sufficient, not to mention less costly. I’d be willing to bet some of the condo owners feel the same way, although they are all obligated to pay assessment increases to cover the cost. 

Come to think of it, the behavior of Bunker Hill Tower Association toward Bunker Hill Apartment tenants reminds me of the bossy kid on the block, back when we were all in grade school. Whenever that annoying kid started telling me what to do, my favorite response was, “You’re not the boss of me!”

Apparently Essex Property Trust feels the same way, and is not interested in appeasing the Condo Association. 

Source articles:

Bunker Hill Residents Have Been at Legal War For Three Years Over a Pool

The Battle on Bunker Hill


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Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

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