Housing Policy

Activists Try To Stop Redevelopment of 'Historic' Business Over Owners' Objections. Again.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is suing to prevent Amoeba Music's Hollywood location from becoming a 200-unit apartment building.

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NIMBYs are suing to stop the redevelopment of a historic business over the objections of the business's owners. Again.

In July, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) sued Los Angeles over its approval of a plan to redevelop Amoeba Music's Hollywood location into a 26-story, 200-unit apartment building.

Since the record store chain opened its Hollywood location in 2001, the store has become famous for its distinctive neon signs and murals and for hosting famous musicians like Paul McCartney. These features, the AHF argues, make the Amoeba Music building a significant historic resource that the city cannot lawfully allow to be demolished without further environmental study.

Amoeba Music's owners feel differently. The lawsuit, they say, is actively harming their ability to keep their record store alive.

"Using Amoeba without our consent in their battle against development is more likely to permanently close our doors than anything else we have faced to date," Amoeba co-owner Jim Henderson told the Los Angeles Times.

Amoeba sold its Hollywood building four years ago for $34 million and has since been looking for another, more affordable storefront.

The lawsuit, Henderson tells the Times, is turning off potential landlords who fear they too could run into legal trouble if they rent to Amoeba and later choose to redevelop their property. Henderson also said that declaring the current building a historic landmark could prevent Amoeba from moving its distinctive neon signs to a new location.

The lawsuit, which AHF filed in conjunction with the Coalition to Preserve L.A., has also argued that the city did not do enough to study the impact of a 26-story tower on nearby utilities and that the city did not require the developer to include rent-restricted affordable units that would be rented out at below-market rates.

AHF and its various advocacy arms have gotten deeply enmeshed in housing politics both in Los Angeles and at the state level.

The non-profit was the primary funder of 2018's failed Proposition 10, a ballot measure that would have repealed state-level restrictions on local governments' ability to impose rent control policies. AHF and its allies are currently gathering signatures to place a second rent control initiative on the 2020 ballot.

In Los Angeles, AHF has sued the Los Angeles city government multiple times over its approval of Hollywood-area developments, arguing that these approvals violated federal and state housing laws and that the new developments themselves will lead to gentrification and displacement.

Its attempt to preserve the current Amoeba Music building over the objections of its owners is reminiscent of other historic landmarking battles.

In Seattle, a coalition of preservationists, musicians, and most of the Seattle City Council is trying to prevent the redevelopment of the Showbox music venue into apartments over the objections of Showbox's current owner.

New York City landmarked the Strand bookstore, despite pleading from the store's owner that such landmarking would be detrimental to her business.

Similarly, in Denver, activists tried to landmark the popular downtown restaurant Tom's Diner to prevent its owner from selling it to a developer. The preservationists eventually dropped their landmarking attempt last week after a fierce public backlash.

The desire to preserve old buildings is an understandable one. However, that desire is also often in tension with demands for new housing and commercial space. Ideally, markets would relieve this tension by letting preservationists and developers offer competing bids for urban properties.

But by allowing activists to landmark buildings without having to actually buy a property, and oftentimes over an owner's objections, cities have heavily tilted the scales toward too much preservation and not enough development.

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  1. Could someone please tell me what this has to do with AIDS?

    What, where the owners not wearing their AIDS ribbon?

    1. I am making 10,000 Dollar at home own laptop .Just do work online 4 to 6 hour proparly . so i make my family happy and u can do

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    2. https://ballotpedia.org/AIDS_Healthcare_Foundation

      They clearly converted an issue focused foundation into a shell PAC for special interests in 2018.

      1. Who cares? One set of California progressive shills trying to hinder the rights of another. Largely happens only in the soviet satellite of California.

      2. Were they bought out? Seems to me the problem was that once AIDS was under control, they had unused assets. Hence being ripe for buyout, just like any business, for profit or not for profit.

    3. Seems like donors who expected their money to go toward stopping AIDS should be the ones filing a lawsuit.

  2. I’m confused…what does the “historic status” of this building have to do with AIDS healthcare?

    1. This. One would think they have enough on their plate without wasting resources on this type of issue.

      1. They’re like Act Up back in the ’80s. It wasn’t really about AIDS.

  3. Good to hear we’ve so thoroughly eradicated the AIDS virus that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation can focus on these other important issues

    1. That’s practically the truth. What else were they going to do with their assets? Like the March of Dimes after polio.

  4. Progressives are famous for their precautionary principle — “Don’t do anything for the first time” — and now it seems they have a corollary — “Don’t stop doing anything”.

    18 years make it historic? Whatta buncha maroons!

    1. It does seem, that despite the name, progressives want to preserve the current landscape in amber and prevent change.

    2. kinda makes them seem…. conservative?

  5. Imagine donating to a foundation to assist with AIDS, and discovering that the money is spent on the whims of “activists” who want to “preserve” random shit at no costs to themselves…

    1. And spend your days working to impose rent control

      I would think this is grounds for a lawsuit, and I hope a donor sues them soon

  6. Private property is a relic of the past. If you consider owning something to mean you can do what you want with it, when you want and not ask anybody’s permission, the concept of private property is truly dead.

  7. Property rights?
    You don’t need no stinking property rights in the Union of Soviet Socialist Slave State of America.

  8. “Drop another match match, go start anew . . . “

    1. Even stuttering on line; I gotta get new meds

    2. Amoeba Music doesn’t own the building.

  9. Maybe a building should have existed longer than its depreciable life before some random fuckface can declare it historic.

  10. It. Opened. In. 2001.

    Back in the days of yore, before iPod

    1. Wow, that was almost in the last millennium . How could evil capitalists even think of destroying such a relic of history?

  11. OK, I guess everyone else has already noted how…curious…it is that an AIDS organization is weighing in on historic “preservation” issues…over a store founded in 2001.

    Crikey, even some of the Millennials were alive in 2001!

    Is it possible that this situation can be resolved – and I’m just spitballing here – with the developers making a generous donation to AIDS research? Not to the specific foundation filing the objections – that would be bribery and bribery is wrong – but to AIDS research in general – thus proving that the developers are nice guys. Win/win!

    1. No advantage in being a nice guy these days; knock it down tomorrow, put the blackmailers into the foundation pour, and get on with it.

      1. I actually don’t think that donating to AIDS research would work, they’d say it was an evil corporation-y distraction from the real issues.

        1. plus there’s the whole problem with the money not actually going to AIDS research

    2. All Millennials were alive in 2001. The standard definition is people born from 1981 to 1996.

      Okay, some people instead use definitions as late as 1983-2004, but even under that definition most Millennials were alive in 2001, and the leading edge had already graduated high school at the time of the November 17, 2001 opening of this store.

      1. I saw millennials defined yesterday as people born 1979-2000.

  12. Preservation can be easily achieved by raising the money and buying the building. But organizations like this want to just force others to do stuff that may actually bankrupt those other parties.
    As another example, I believe it is Portland (of course) that views all trees as public property. You cannot cut one down on your property without permission even if it is a hazard to your home. Of course they do not reimburse you if it falls on your house.

    1. …and it’s mandatory that you go shopping on Wednesdays, and have buttered scones for tea.

      1. And I thought you were so butch

    2. It’s the same thing in the town where I have my business.

      You have to protect the trees and if they’re sick you have to get a permit but not before they approve they need to be cut.

      It had to one guy who had warned repeatedly the trees on his property were ill and needed to be taken down as they were a threat to his family and property. Guess what? It fell through his garage one day. Know what else? The city basically told him ‘oh well.’

      More? He’s a landscaper.

    3. “views all trees as public property. You cannot cut one down on your property without permission even if it is a hazard to your home. Of course they do not reimburse you if it falls on your house.”

      I knew somebody in more or less that position. He wen t to the town council and told them that when the tree fell and demolished the house he was going to sue them both separately and in a body, and that he was confident that he would collect enough to force the town and every single one of them personally to declare bankruptcy.

      He had the permit to remove the tree in hand the next day.

    4. It’s not even about preserving the record store. It’s about forcing some units to be rented out below market.

  13. Ok, it’s a bit pedantic of me, but I don’t think NIMBY is strictly accurate.

    Of course, it’s a little hard to tell just what their motives are, anyway. The ‘Historic Landmark’ business is clearly bushwa. The damn building was only put up in 2001. The style is neither historically interesting or especially attractive. As others have pointed out, it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and if some historic event in AIDS or Gay history took place there, surely a nice bronze plaque would do.

    I guess we’ll have to go with NIMBY. I tend to associate it with people who are literally upset over something like a power pylon or wind turbine being built close to where they live.

    I suppose “I don’t want to pay for your property, but I do want to dictate what is done with it” doesn’t abbreviate well.

    1. My guess is that if the building goes up, one of the officers or major donors of the AHC would lose their view.

      1. *shrug*

        Probably right.

    2. It’s about the new apartment building not having any below market units. They’re afraid of yuppies.

  14. An outfit like AHC that has outlived its stated purpose ought to be dissolved.

    AHC’s worst offense was their sponsorship of Los Angeles Measure S in 2017
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Los_Angeles_Measure_S
    commonly known as NIMBYism on steroids. What driving up housing costs had to do with helping AIDS patients remains a mystery.

  15. The fricken thing opened in 1990! 30 years is historical know? WTF.

    1. In cars, 25 years is considered ‘classic’, I believe.

      1. Yep, that’s why ’92 Yugos are in such demand…

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  17. Ideally, markets would relieve this tension by letting preservationists and developers offer competing bids for urban properties.

    What the motherfucking fuck?

    Britschi – the market already does that. These preservationists are completely able to tender competing offers already.

    THEY CHOOSE TO USE THE POWER OF STATE VIOLENCE INSTEAD! Because then its not their blood and treasure that is being expended – but its still their goals that are being met. These people will never use the market as long as the option to get someone else to use violent coercion on their behalf is available.

  18. These misguided activists (and probably assholes) don’t seem to grasp there are PEOPLE behind these stores. People whose lives they’re directly impacting.

    But I bet they’re the sort of people who preach about compassion and vote Democrat whenever some BS one size fits all program like Obamacare is initiated or proposed.

    In these cases, if they care so damn much open the wallets and make a bid. Instead, like good authoritarians they want the state to do it for them.

    1. Ah, but THEY are the ANOINTED. The entire structure of society exists solely to cater to their whims.

      Guillotine bait, the lot of ’em.

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