This article was posted on Wednesday, Nov 01, 2017

The below letter was sent to the Manager of KCET regarding a recent telecast on “City Rising”.

Dear Program Manager:

Thank you for your interesting program.  Unfortunately, you did not interview or discuss some of the problems, difficulties or challenges facing small, family apartment owners who handle and manage properties in Oakland, Santa Ana, Boyle Heights, Sylmar, Van Nuys or other areas.

It’s true – rents have increased.  It’s true that rent control has caused many family-owned apartment complexes to surrender and give up and otherwise sell the properties.  Developers purchase the properties and make other arrangements.

Perhaps if there was no “oppressive” rent control, these small family owners could stay in business and continue to provide very affordable and appropriate housing.

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Your program failed to tell the complete story. Your program failed to talk about rising apartment management costs and expenses like:

  • Property taxes
  • Parcel taxes
  • Bonds
  • Municipal fees
  • Water, sewage
  • Trash hauling
  • Plumbing
  • Maintenance
  • Landscaping
  • Accounting and
  • The enormous cost of litigating and eviction.

None of these is addressed or captured by the Consumer Price Index.

The annual rental increase allowed in Santa Monica is approximately 1%.  It’s even less in West Hollywood.  Los Angeles is 3% yet water costs have gone up by 15%, sewage by 29% and trash hauling by 500% or more.

These escalating and rising costs give rise to the need to increase the rental values.  The unit becomes vacant and they’re offered for rent at a higher amount to cover the expense of the project.

Remember, the rent control tenant is protected.  He or she is paying a rent which is probably equivalent to market rent in the early 1960s.  Their next door neighbor now pays current rental values and is essentially underwriting and subsidizing the other remaining rent control tenants.  Is this fair?

So … your program didn’t talk about the apartment owners.  In 2007, a 30-gallon hot water heater could be purchased for $199 and for several hundred dollars more, installed.  Today, that same water heater is available for $950 and the installation is $300.  18-cubic-feet, frost-free refrigerators were $299 and today they are $800.

I’ve gone into these under-served neighborhoods.  I see brand new, luxury motor vehicles in every driveway.  If you go into their homes, you see 75-inch flat screen TVs, laptop computers, and Apple technically-advanced iPhones. Yes, people live very well, but they’re complaining about their rents.

Yes, they’re burdened.  Why not create a voucher system run by the Department of Motor Vehicles and give it to “seniors, disabled and perhaps even rent-burdened tenants”?

Your program, “City Rising,” was not object, fair or appropriate. I’ve always supported KCET but I am now somewhat ashamed that you were hijacked by some tenant activists.

A loyal supporter, Michael Millman


Michael Millman is an Attorney and a Mar Vista activist and can be reached at (310) 477-1201.