Wilshire-Rodeo Station Construction: Where is the Mitigation for Tenants?

Wilshire-Rodeo station location mapDo you live in near the future Metro station at Wilshire and Reeves? If so you are likely to experience construction-related disruption from the project. But If you rent housing near the future Purple Line station, your problems are only beginning. Households near the station are quite likely to be displaced over the coming years, so I’ve asked City of Beverly Hills to consider strong-arming Metro for compensation. Read on!

Take a look at this map. The shaded portion captures apartment houses within 500 feet of the future Metro station at Wilshire and Reeves. With just a few exceptions these are rental properties; nearly all of them are two-story antiquated buildings nearing 80 years old (or older). Yet they are just a two-minute walk from the most significant mass transit investment in a generation: the Purple Line extension.

Wilshire-Rodeo station impact map
This map illustrates a 500-foot radius around the Wilshire-Rodeo project area. Residents who rent housing within this area will need some help to cope with construction impacts and displacement. More than 200 households are but a two-minute walk from the project area.

One need not be clairvoyant to be able to see that many of these buildings will fall to the wrecking ball. The older the property and the smaller the unit profile, then the more likely it is to be redeveloped simply because these older properties do not fit with today’s market for rental housing. A steep rise in underlying land values near the station will exert enormous pressure to redevelop or sell.

Moreover, a building that is under the same ownership as an adjacent parcel may fall sooner. The developer of an individual property faces challenges (like a cap on floor area and parking requirements) that greatly limit return-on-investment. Combined parcels afford development efficiencies, however, and that’s why our city encourages developers to purchase R–4 (residential rental) parcels in twos-and-threes.

Wilshire-Rodeo station view from Reeves 100 block
Looking toward the future station location on the 100 block of Reeves Drive. (The future station is indicated by the red box.) The predominant housing type in the neighborhood is the small- and medium-sized multifamily property of 6 or 8 units. There are about 200 renting households within just 500 feet of the future station – and all vulnerable to displacement.

To put this threat in perspective, advocates of density near transit talk about the potential to redevelop whole swaths within a quarter-mile and half-mile of a major transit station. Here I am talking only 500 feet.

I have approached City Hall about negotiating into the Metro Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) two programs to compensate tenants for the short-term disruption of construction and the longer-term displacement of households. (Read the correspondence.) The draft MOA will be up for City Council discussion on July 17th and the final MOA agreed shortly afterward.

It is important that tenants stake our claim because businesses already have a mitigation fund and landowners, developers and condo owners stand to win BIG from this massive public investment. Tenants won’t see any upside for many years and even then many of us will see the downside: higher rents and displacement.