The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday approved the addition of a downtown art colony to the city’s list of Historic-Cultural Monuments in hopes of protecting the creative and living space.

The residents of the Santa Fe Art Colony, formerly the C.B. Van Vorst Co. Manufacturing Plant, said they faced substantial rent increases after the property was acquired by Fifteen Group in 2018.

The SFAC was established in 1986. The building was constructed in the early 1930s.

The City Council took the action unanimously with no discussion.

The Los Angeles Times reported that when the SFAC rent increases came on Nov. 1, eight tenants paid their regular rent plus 8% and applied for the Emergency Renters Relief program to have the city cover the rest. But their rent checks were returned and they were given three-day “pay or quit” notices from the property manager.

A 30-year agreement that placed rent restrictions on most of the 57 units had expired, and the compound’s new owner was about to raise rents to market rate, in some cases tripling costs overnight, The Times reported.

Those increases are likely change with the passage of Assembly Bill 1482, which went into effect on Jan. 1 and restricts rent increases to 5% plus the applicable consumer price index or 10%, whichever is lower, of what the rent was as of March 15, 2019.

Before then, rents were as low as about $1,000 a month, but the proposed increases would have made rents more than $2,100, according to The Times. The rental website Apartments.com showed listings at the SFAC at more than $5,900 a month.

Now that it’s on the list, the building itself is protected, but that may not necessarily keep the new owner from repurposing it for other uses.

The Los Angeles Conservancy applied for the colony to be added to the Historic-Cultural Monuments list.

According to the SFAC website, 72 artists live and work within the building.

Ken Bernstein, of the Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources, said the SFAC qualifies for the Historic-Cultural Monuments list in that it was significant to early 20th century manufacturing in the city and is the first publicly subsidized housing for art purposes.

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