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Tenants-Rights Protesters Scuffle With Apartment Owner Who Plans To Turn Building Into Hotel In Hollywood

LOS ANGELES ( —  Tenants rights advocates protested what they call the mass displacement of renters in Los Angeles Sunday night.

And KCAL9's Cristy Fajardo reports the protest -- held in Hollywood -- got physical.

The LA Tenants Union accuse city officials of colluding with property developers to drive out renters. They were one of several renter's rights groups that participated in the protest.

"Whoa, call the police!" said a tenants rights protester.

Outside a fundraiser in Hollywood, a protest ended with allegations of pushing and kicking.

Fajardo reports both sides told police the other side broke the law.

The owner of the Villa Carlotta and the protesters accused each other of assault.

The various renter's rights organizations are upset the Hollywood Arts Council decided to hold a fundraiser inside the Villa Carlotta apartments. The owner is turning the landmark building into hotel and used a state law known as the Ellis Act to evict all but four tenants.

Protestors say it's a symptom of a widespread problem in LA --not enough rentals and skyrocketing rates.

"We think it's offensive that the Hollywood Arts Council chose this space for a fundraiser despite being told about the resistance and the fight and that [the owner] destroyed the homes of artists," said protester Walt Centerfitt, with the LA Renters Union.

The owner of the building declined to talk to Fajardo but the Arts Council defended its event and choice of venue.

"Their protest is not with us," said Mathew Leum with the Hollywood Arts Council, "I think their protest is with the owners of the building. And it's sad they're choosing to use our events -- where we're trying to raise money to promote the arts in Hollywood -- to disrupt us."

Things took a turn when one of the few tenants left in the building -- Sylvie Shain and her friends -- dressed as ghosts of past tenants and tried to walk through the lobby during the fundraiser.

"But unfortunately I was the only one who got passed and I was manhandled," Shain said.

"She was not allowed to enter from a certain entrance, but she completely had access to her unit," said Carline Phenix with the Council.

Police are left to try to sort the entire thing out, Fajardo reported.

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