VOICES -- Yesterday, 30 housing activists and hotel workers protested in front of 779 Stradella Dr., a notorious party house branded as a “sober living residence” and tied to Paul Manafort.
The house is purportedly owned by Jeffrey Yohai, former son-in-law of Manafort, but questions around ownership have been raised after a neighbor reportedly mistakenly received a gas bill for the house addressed to Paul J. Manafort.
Neighbors of the property filed a lawsuit against Jeffrey Yohai and his assistant seeking a temporary restraining order to stop the property from being rented in violation of the law and used as a party house (attached). The neighbors requested the temporary restraining order alleging that Yohai broke an agreement made earlier this month to address neighborhood concerns. A Superior Court Judge issued the restraining order yesterday.
“Late night drunken party-goers and traffic jammed hillside streets have no place in a residential area.” said Shawn Bayliss, Executive Director of the Bel-Air Association. “Hotels and event spaces are designed and staffed for this, not neighborhoods where people must go to work the next morning.”
Manafort was indicted as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation on Russian intervention in the 2016 election. The indictment alleged Manafort used laundered money to purchase property and rent it short-term on Airbnb and other platforms. Yohai purchased the home for $8.5 million with a loan of $5.95 million loan in January 2016. He received a subsequent loan of $2.7 million from Paul Manafort on March 30th, 2016, only a day after Manafort joined Trump’s campaign. In December 2016, Yohai filed for bankruptcy protection for 779 Stradella and three other LA properties.
“This house is yet another glaring example of short-term rentals facilitating unlawful activities,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz, whose district includes the neighborhood of Bel-Air. “From promoting illegal hotels which decimate the local housing market, to creating new loopholes for the likes of Paul Manafort to exploit, short term rental platforms are inextricable from shady financial dealings that harm communities in my district.”
According to a Fall 2015 report by the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, LA lost 10,394 units, or about 4.9 units a day to Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms. Based on these numbers, in the three years since Los Angeles City Council began discussing short-term rental regulation, Los Angeles has lost over 4,900 needed housing units, which amount to 4.9 units per day and 147 units per month.
“Airbnb has transformed much needed housing stock into defacto hotels,” said Jose Aguilar, a cook at the Doubletree Downtown LA and member of UNITE HERE Local 11, the hospitality workers union. “Just like any other hotel that doesn’t care about the community, they shouldn’t be surprised when this loss of our housing stock faces pickets and protest.”
(This piece provided by Unite Here Local 11, a hospitality workers union.)