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LACBA Civic Mediation Project Resolves Landlord-Tenant Dispute 

Lee Blackman photo

The LACBA Civic Mediation Project (CMP) provides conflict resolution services to residents of Los Angeles County.  The disputes mediated by CMP range from neighbor-neighbor disagreements to litigated cases with hundreds of thousands of dollars in dispute.

Since CMP was established in 1978 (as the Neighborhood Justice Center), it has fostered strong ties to the community, local governments, non-profits, and service organizations. One of these partners – a local City Attorney—contacted CMP Program Coordinator Julie Ware to convene a multi-party mediation involving a tenant, on-site property manager, and property owner.

The parties were involved in a long-standing conflict that had escalated to the City Attorney’s office. The tenant had engaged Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles to represent her. After their investigation, the City Attorney felt the parties would be better served in mediation.

Ms. Ware spoke with the parties and counsel over a period of several days discussing their perspectives on what had brought them to this place in the dispute and how mediation might be of help to each of them in finding a lasting, durable resolution that would benefit them all. They each agreed to move forward with the process. 

Ms. Ware assigned Lee Blackman as the mediator for the case. In addition to being a Community Program Mediator, Mr. Blackman (a retired attorney) volunteers for CMP at the Day-of-Hearing Program in the George Deukmejian Court in Long Beach Unlawful Detainer Courtroom. He was also CMP’s 2015 recipient of LACBA’s Hon. Benjamin Aranda III Outstanding Public Service Award.

The parties met in an extremely contentious mediation. Mr. Blackman persevered in exploring each of their interests and helping them identify areas of common ground. Following in-person mediation and several follow-up phone calls, the parties reached a resolution that all agreed would work.

According to Mr. Blackman, “The Civic Mediation Project provides critical assistance to stressed and struggling parties involved in many kinds of disputes, including eviction cases (pending or threatened).  The landlord and tenants in these disputes want to substitute a fair and sensible resolution for the confusing, intimidating, and risk-filled court process. CMP’s mediators facilitate these resolutions by providing moderating and patient assistance that usually results in process and a resolution that are more humane than the court can supply.”