We’re the last spot to be able to hold on to that whole concept


The month before that post, the tenants association had made an offer to buy the property. The association said California law allows tenants to make a market-rate offer on subsidized housing once it leaves regulatory control; the owners must at least consider the offer, and if they choose not to sell, they’re forbidden from selling the property to anyone else for five years. In July Fifteen Group “refused to negotiate in good faith,” rejecting the tenants’ offer of $16.8 million and asking for $22 million, 47% more than what the company paid for the property last year, the association said.

For many, the plight of Santa Fe Art Colony residents echoes changes in L.A.’s Arts District to the north. Artists transformed that neighborhood before high-end galleries, boutiques, cafes and condos moved in.

For many colony residents, being pushed out would mean something greater than the loss of a home.

“We’re the last spot to be able to hold on to that whole concept,” Feesago said, “to say, ‘we as a group exist,’ and we want to hand it off to whoever follows after us.”

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“We serve not just a cultural function, but the arts are huge in the economy,” said Sylvia Tidwell, head of the Santa Fe Art Colony Tenants Assn., who said her rent had been $1,426 but is rising to $4,493 effective Friday. “The fine artists working in the studio at the grassroots level, we generate ideas that inform all the other creative industries.”

Last year artist-residents boycotted a Fifteen Group-organized open studios event, which they saw as an attempt to use their community as a real estate selling point: Come see the kind of cool studios that eventually could be yours.

“That felt really awful,” said Gina Han, who was part of the colony for more than two decades. “Everyone’s coming to see your space, not coming to see your art. They would say, ‘I like this wall, I like this bathroom.’”

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