Santa Fe Art Colony Tenants Hope State Law Can Preserve Their Home’s Affordability

A Downtown artist colony is now a Los Angeles landmark. On Feb. 4, the Los Angeles City Council voted to grant historic-cultural monument status to the Santa Fe Art Colony at 2345 S. Santa Fe Ave., a move that tenants welcomed as part of their efforts to preserve affordable housing.

The colony, a set of brick buildings constructed in 1916, started life as a furniture manufacturing site. It became the Santa Fe Art Colony in 1986 and has remained a stalwart of Downtown’s arts scene. In 1986, it was provided a 30-year affordable housing covenant. It houses 72 artists who regularly hold showcases and events at the space. In 2018, real estate firm the Fifteen Group purchased the Santa Fe Art Colony.

Santa Fe Art Colony tenants have been in an ongoing conflict with the Fifteen Group regarding rising rents since the covenant expired in 2016.

With historic-cultural monument status, the buildings are protected from demolition or alteration without heavy review and permits. Fifteen Group has not announced any major redevelopment plans; however it had been bringing units to market rate rents after the covenant expired.

The City of Los Angeles intervened in November to help artist residents cover their rents with its Emergency Renters Relief Program. According to the Santa Fe Art Colony Tenants Association, the landlord filed eviction notices for 27 artist residents in January, refusing to accept lower rents.