NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS-After over half a year of intense struggle, the Hillside Villa Tenants Association is close to a major victory. All that stands in the way presently is the greed of the landlords, Tom and Chloe Botz, as well as that of their sleazy lawyer, Brandon Dimond.
We urge them to do what’s right: accept the bailout they’re being offered from the city and stop trying to kick these families out of their homes.
The Hillside Villa tenants have won some big battles already. When we at LATU got involved in helping them fight, back in January of 2019, they were already organized. Their “affordable housing” was expiring after 30 years, and rents were set to go up on June 1 -- some of them were looking at increases of over $1,500 per month. Since then we and the tenants have met every single Thursday night, joined by organizers from the Chinatown Community for Equitable Development (CCED) and the Democratic Socialists of America, Los Angeles (DSA-LA).
June 1 passed, and rents did not go up. Botz was forced to rescind the rent increases. That is a major victory, which we accomplished with an aggressive inside-outside strategy -- our lawyers were preparing to defend the rights of the tenants in the courtroom, and we let the world know who Tom and Chloe Botz really were, and that they were now seeking to evict hundreds of people in order to line their pockets. (Photo left: Chloe Botz)
The message is clear: tenants across LA, you can fight back, and you can win!
Now, however, the tenants are once again facing eviction. On June 1, dozens of families -- all those who do not receive Section 8 vouchers -- were given eviction notices demanding they leave their units by July 31. Our lawyers are prepared to ensure that all tenants’ rights are protected.
Of course, it’s absolutely deplorable if Tom and Chloe Botz really aim to carry out these evictions. We’re talking about elderly folks on fixed incomes who have lived here for 30 years; families with children who go to elementary school at Castelar, down the street; multiple wheelchair-bound cancer patients whose whole lives are in Chinatown -- all facing being thrown out on the street by the greed of Tom, Chloe, and Brandon Dimond.
But there might be another motive, too. Currently, negotiations to extend the building’s affordability are ongoing between the city and the landlord, being facilitated by Councilmember Gil Cedillo. We think these eviction notices might be, at least in part, a ploy by the lawyer Brandon Dimond to increase their leverage in the negotiations. This is no less disgusting and dehumanizing than throwing families onto the street. The psychological and health consequences of impending eviction, and possible homelessness, are severe, and families are hurting because of it every single day.
Tom, Chloe, and Brandon, stop using the Hillside Villa tenants as bargaining chips. Stop messing with people’s lives. The city is literally offering you millions of dollars (we’ve seen the numbers). This can end now, if you just have a heart.
By all accounts, the deal is close to being finalized. Tom Botz owes the city $5.5 million, and the city is offering to forgive the entirety of the loans, plus give additional money, in exchange for keeping the building affordable for 10 years. In effect, because they originally sought to evict hundreds of people, Tom and Chloe Botz are now being awarded with a massive bailout.
We have reason to believe that their lawyer, Brandon Dimond, is the main actor here blocking progress. Perhaps he’s strategically prolonging the negotiations so that he gets paid more -- who knows. He’s truly a despicable person, and his career shows a pattern of working to harm poor people, especially people of color.
In addition to Tom and Chloe Botz, Brandon Dimond (photo left) happens to represent slumlord Lisa Ehrlich. She has her own history of abusing tenants, most notably her treatment of the Burlington tenants, who are overwhelmingly immigrants of Mexican and Central American descent. Dimond also has defended Chevron, the massive oil company, against a lawsuit brought by poor villagers in Ecuador who suffered from the company’s pollution.
But on his LinkedIn, Dimond claims to volunteer at the Los Angeles Mission! If he really cared about homelessness, he wouldn’t be trying to put hundreds of people on the street (literally -- he’s very likely the one writing all these eviction notices).
The struggle will continue until the Hillside Villa tenants have a guarantee that they won’t be evicted anytime soon. Tom, Chloe, and Brandon, this can end whenever you want it to. We’re prepared to fight for as long as it takes.
If you feel compelled, please email the attorney Brandon Dimond and urge him to accept the deal that’s on the table from the city: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call his law offices at: 818-660-1919.
(This statement was written by organizers from the LA Tenants Union and Chinatown Community for Equitable Development who have been working closely with the Hillside Villa tenants.)