The Vaughan Family: "War Stories"

For Earle Vaughan, Santa Monica Boulevard will always be associated with 1970s furniture shopping.

The Vaughan Family
The Vaughan Family at the military school they used to manage in addition to apartment units. 

“Apartment owners used to furnish all of the apartments in Los Angeles, so I would go with my dad to sto
res on Santa Monica Boulevard, or buy other pieces at auctions,” Vaughan says. “My dad was pretty pleased when he didn’t have to do that anymore.”

Although the late 1970s ushered in many positive changes, Vaughan says rent control permanently altered the Los Angeles apartment industry.

“Rent control changed the tone and complexity of the business and made everything far more litigious,” Vaughan says. “It was beyond anything my grandfather ever had to deal with; today it’s more stringent than he could have imagined.”

Vaughan’s grandfather, whom he was named after, started buying apartments buildings after World War II. Nicknamed “Major” for his rank in the military, Earle split his time between managing apartments and running a series of private military schools. He also became very involved with the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA), serving as president for three years in the late 1960s. 

By the time Vaughan was in and out of furniture stores, his grandfather and father were both independent rental owners (IROs) and active AAGLA members. At 11, Vaughan started spending his summers working onsite with the maintenance team, doing everything from assisting with plumbing and drywall to yard work and painting. 

After graduating from college and going to graduate school, Vaughan began working for another property management company in Los Angeles. Four years later, in the early 1990s, he returned to the family business and began buying a few small buildings. Vaughan says his early years as an IRO were during a very depressed time in Los Angeles. Properties were cheap, but vacancy rates were over 20 percent.

Today, Vaughan and his father, Russell, own and operate 300 units in Los Angeles. His grandfather passed away 25 years ago, but Vaughan says his stories of the apartment industry live on.

“He frequently went to Washington, D.C., to lobby senators on important industry issues,” says Vaughan, who served as AAGLA president from 2009-2011. “He always told me stories about those trips. My grandfather always thought this was a good business for the family.”

 

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