The majority of CD11 residents are renters, but Traci Park does not represent them. She is deep in the pocket of corporate landlords, who have gobbled up the majority of the housing stock in our city. Seventy-five percent of LA tenants live in buildings owned by investment vehicles or large landlords – the same corporations that want to block affordable housing, reduce building safety regulations, gentrify our neighborhoods and strip away tenants’ rights.
Against the backdrop of a massive affordable housing crisis, with 80,000+ Angelenos unhoused and mass evictions on the horizon due to City Council’s vote to end COVID protections, Traci’s colleagues on City Council stepped up on January 20, 2023, to pass the largest expansion of tenant protections in Los Angeles since the 1979 adoption of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance. Traci bucked this trend, establishing herself as the most anti-renter representative at City Hall. Although she voted for the new protections, she did so reluctantly, claiming the process “felt rushed.” She then joined fellow former Republican Councilmember John Lee as the only no votes on an eviction threshold that protects tenants who owe less than one month’s rent and a rule requiring landlords to pay relocation fees to tenants in certain circumstances. And she was the lone dissenting vote on a one-month grace period for tenants behind on rent. Turns out the only housing-related legislation Traci has introduced is pro-landlord.
None of this is surprising. During the 2022 election cycle, Traci accepted over $1.2 million from the corporate landlord lobby and powerful real estate interests, including Douglas Emmett, Kilroy Realty and the California Apartment Association. Real estate investment trust Douglas Emmett funneled a whopping $566,000 to Traci through an independent expenditure committee formed by the LA Police Protective League. The company’s outsized contribution came under heavy scrutiny as a likely attempt to buy political favors because they had been struggling to avoid basic building and fire safety codes demanded by former Councilmember Mike Bonin. Two fires have broken out at Barrington Plaza, a Douglas Emmett apartment complex where the company refused to install sprinklers. The building has 712 rent-stabilized units, 577 of which are occupied by residents. The 2013 and 2020 blazes killed a 19-year-old man and injured 21 people, including a 3-month-old baby and 2-year-old girl. As one displaced tenant put it, “They should have put sprinklers in after the 2013 fire . . . The landlords don’t care.”
In May of 2023, with Traci Park firmly entrenched as their landlord puppet, Douglas Emmett announced plans to evict all tenants at Barrington Plaza, one of the largest mass evictions in LA history. The company relied on a faulty use of the Ellis Act, citing the need to install sprinklers as the basis for their mass eviction. After all, a multi-billion dollar company would rather pay the fine for violating the Ellis Act if it means they can reopen the building with jacked-up rents. But the Barrington Plaza tenants are fighting back – they will not go quietly. On June 12, 2023, they filed suit to stop the mass eviction and displacement.
Another $300,000 came courtesy of Kilroy Realty, one of the leading funders of the recall against Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom. At least one of Traci’s major real estate donors, Texas-based Turnkey Holdings, is facing a class action lawsuit for not refunding its customers. Traci found another major backer in the California Apartment Association, which contributed $265,000 to her campaign. According to a special investigation from the Housing is a Human Right Campaign, the CAA has spent millions upon millions in lobbying against renter protections.
During her City Council campaign, Traci met frequently with affluent westsiders serving on homeowners associations and neighborhood councils, but rarely made time for the majority of CD11 constituents struggling to make ends meet. And in October 2022, she refused to show up for a debate at the only public housing project in CD11, Mar Vista Gardens.