How some real estate laws explain the shootings in Echo Park

I’ve written before about how Prop 13 and rent control both slow down development.

Here’s a real life example: The shootings this weekend in Echo Park, one on Mohawk and the other on Echo Park Ave.

Echo Park has come a long way from its past as a real hub of gang violence in the 1980s and 1990s. However, there are still plenty of aging gangsters living in the neighborhood, some in the apartment buildings on Echo Park Ave. directly north of Sunset and some in single family homes on Baxter.

I know about the ones living in apartments because I walked away from an earnest money deposit a few years ago rather than buy a building where a bunch of them lived. It was an interesting building, one that definitely would have been a great project. In another city, you could just buy the building, ask the tenants to leave, renovate it, and, in the process, improve the neighborhood. But, because of rent control, there was no way for me to get the scary guys who lived in the building to move out, so I canceled the deal.

The single family homes are an example of the Prop 13 problem. A lot of these guys bought their houses in the 1980s for nothing. Prop 13 limits the increase in their property taxes, even though the values of their properties have increased dramatically. In another city, increases in the property taxes would presumably have forced these wonderful human beings to sell their homes. In LA, they get to stay in them and terrorize an otherwise-improving neighborhood.

Eventually, the gangsters will age out of the violent demographic, get killed, or go to jail. In the meantime, it would be nice to see the City Attorney’s office roll out some gang evictions (the laws are already on the books) to clear out those apartment buildings. Sadly, there’s not much you can do about the houses.