The following is an open letter from an anonymous Californian whose anger and frustration at the ongoing destruction of the state has boiled over. It reflects the feelings of so many people I know here, myself included. My friend would like this to remain anonymous but hopefully, get widespread attention, so please feel free to share:
The boxes are filled. The bags are packed. The hearts are breaking.
My family is about to be divided and separated, perhaps forever. I wish you cared.
Our wonderful daughter, along with her husband and their two young children has given up on life in California. The only place they’ve ever called home has become intolerable for them.
They’ve found a new home in a southern state, far away from here, in the real America.
I’ve heard the story innumerable times – people leaving, or wanting to leave, what was once the paradise of the West Coast. Not so long ago, kids could walk down to the corner store, or to school, without their parents worrying about their safe return. No more.
You once could visit a neighborhood park, and not fear for your life. No more.
Walking across the street did not require careful examination of the pavement to avoid feces or used hypodermic needles. Now it does.
Illnesses are again being seen in this state that had been rare or non-existent until recently. Typhus, Tuberculosis, Mumps, Measles, Hepatitis A, B, and C are all here again. A worker on the upper floors at L.A. City Hall recently came down with typhus, spread by rats living in the disgusting conditions around the Civic Center.
But you’re concerned that I might ask for a plastic straw.
Your priorities for managing this state are crystal clear, and the middle class is nowhere near the top of the list. I learned in Civics class years ago that the primary job of government is to keep the people safe. What happened? When did our safety and well-being fall off the radar? Not too long ago, my daughter had her new vehicle stolen from her driveway in the short time it took her to walk the kids to school. Someone was watching, waiting for them to leave. It gives me chills just thinking about it.
You release violent criminals back onto our streets to terrorize our communities; you proudly remove the death-penalty as an option, sending a friendly message to the worst of the worst, and you handcuff our law-enforcement officers, challenging their every move. Officers now must take an extra moment, perhaps just a second, questioning their training and best judgment, before using any amount of force to apprehend a violent criminal. When this results in another dead cop, and it will, the blood will be on your hands, sir.
A few weeks ago, we watched on television as a violent felon led police on a three-hour pursuit, destroying property and narrowly missing pedestrians and other vehicles. We saw him brutally beat his female passenger while driving close to 100 mph. Then last week, a murder suspect shot at police out the window of the car he was being pursued in. It’s a miracle nobody was killed. Turns out, both suspects were free on “early release” through AB-109, which you and other politicians (who all live behind walls, with armed security) forced upon us in the name of compassion. Where’s your compassion for law-abiding citizens, Mr. Governor?
And don’t get me started on taxes and regulations. The amount of money taken from us by this state is criminal. Just living here is expensive enough, but imagine trying to run a business and stay afloat. We have the highest gas prices/taxes in the country, and still our roads are a mess. I recently hit a pothole and the damage to my car was over $1,000.
We pay you enormous sums to manage the state’s affairs, yet people by the thousands sleep on our streets at night. Homeless encampments are everywhere, in neighborhoods we never imagined they’d be. And still, you want more.
There’s a move now to weaken Prop. 13. No doubt it will pass. And I just read that you want to tax online sales now, too – along with proposals to tax water, telephones, dairy products, fertilizers, health care, and more. But taxing those things will not affect the “super rich 1%”. They’re just more hits on the middle class. You Sacramento politicians have an insatiable addiction to other people’s money. But many citizens have had enough and are walking away – which brings me back to my family.
They’re closing their business here. You’ll get no more of their hard-earned money. They’ve purchased a home in their new state, big enough for the four of them and a dog or two. Maybe even a horse. The kids will get a great education. They’ll be able to leave a window open at night, knowing that the criminals are the ones who are afraid – afraid of the police, afraid of the courts, and afraid of the citizens who exercise their right to defend themselves. Oh, and gas there is about $2 a gallon.
Somehow, they’ll have to survive without a Fantasy Train to nowhere, but I’m sure they’ll find a way to get by. Meanwhile, your tax base shrinks and Atlas shrugs. Soon, the only people left here will be the very rich and the very poor. It’s almost as if you planned it that way.
And now, my family is broken. As are countless others. No more school plays, no more little league games. No more weekend breakfasts at IHOP or Thanksgiving dinners. I’ll happily burn a ton of fossil fuel to go visit them at their new home as often as I can. But, I won’t be there as an instant babysitter when needed on short notice, and I’ll actually notice their growth from visit to visit. I’ll pray every night for their safety and happiness in the years to come. And I’ll cry that I can’t hold them tight. I’m angry as hell, and I miss them desperately already.
But they’ll get no going away card from you and no apologies. You simply don’t care.”
My wife and I belong to the AOA and retired about 18 months ago from almost 40 years each in Corporate America. The key that allowed us to retire comfortably are net monthly rents from apartment units in Ventura County. We joined the AOA about 10 years ago, after doing an entirely poor job of running our first 6-unit building. We had late pays, gang bangers, you name it – we had it. Once we joined the AOA, spoke to some experienced landlords, learned how to market for quality tenants and started running credit checks though the AOA, we had the foundation for a solid business model. Now, 15 years later, we have a quality business model. Twenty five percent (25%) of our units are Section 8 and we’ve had good luck with the programs in the cities of Oxnard and Port Hueneme. As always, the key is selecting quality tenants.
Our model is to buy in working class areas, where the rate of return makes sense for us. It’s a balance between a really bad area, with an extremely high rate of return and one where we couldn’t make any profit because the area is too nice. We buy in non-rent control cities, try to find one story buildings and self-manage our properties.
I’m writing for four reasons:
- To thank you for a really quality organization and monthly magazine – the forms are excellent and the magazine is really informative.
- To let you know how the April, May and June issues were really of SIGNIFICANT benefit. The April and May articles by the couple that advised their grandson how to take on and manage properties were beyond excellent. A real primer for anyone starting in the rental business. We have three sons and gave each one copies of these articles. Two (2) of the best articles you’ve published.
- A local real estate broker who is very active in multi-family properties in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties sends out a monthly blast and mentioned that the California Assembly recently approved a rent cap bill that, if passed by the State Senate and signed by the Governor would impose an annual rent cap of 7% plus the cost of inflation. This is pretty distressing and as Dennis Block preached in your magazine about two years ago, get rents up to market now so you’re not left holding the bag when (not if) forms of rent control come to your area. BTW, we’ve used Dennis’ firm, as needed, and they are very good.
- Two months ago I wrote a letter to LA Mayor Garcetti suggesting that if they allocated a portion of the over $600,000,000 set aside for homelessness – to better fund affordable housing via the Section 8 program – by hiring more staff, allocating more funds to the program and raising rents to 15% – 20% above market, there would be a line out the door of landlords that might be willing to try the program. These are two important and somewhat related issues. I also wrote to Steve Lopez in the L.A. Times with the same suggestion, in response to a recent article he wrote. No response from the Mayor – not even a form letter.
Thanks for listening. My wife and I cannot put into words what you and the AOA have done to help us establish a financial legacy for our sons and grandsons. Best regards, John Steiner,
NO RENT CONTROL IN CULVER CITY!
Dear City Council:
Please do not vote in rent control. It will diminish our city. Over time there is no incentive for property owners to build, sell or upkeep their properties. In a time of growth for our city this will curtail and turn away investors and harm property owners. This is a no win for our city. I rented in Santa Monica in a rent control building and the community diminished and is now horrible. Don’t fall into the trap of short sighted decisions that will impact our community forever. Against rent control! Bonnie W.
Dear Culver City Council Members:
I have lived in Culver City more years than anywhere else. My mother still lives and owns property in the City. Should my mother someday choose to move to a smaller home it had been my hope to rent her existing property out.
Should Culver City adopt these anti-business laws, many things will happen. All new apartment construction will stop. Existing newer apartments that can be converted to condominiums will be. People like me will sell rather than rent properties because we cannot afford to take the risk of a non-paying tenant whose eviction will nearly be impossible. The tight rental market will get tighter – limiting new opportunities for business and city growth that will lead to less opportunities for local people.
Money is fluid. Other states will attract that capital with less constraints and better returns. Culver City and its residents and neighbors will be the poorer for it. Don’t let this happen.
Best, Jason S.
Dear Culver City Council Members:
Are you also going to put a freeze on maintenance costs? Has anyone of you ever managed a building? MM
Hello Council Members:
I realize that we should all care for one another BUT it should not be at the expense of those that follow the law and pay most of the taxes. I have been on both sides as tenant and landlord.Tenants have too many protections that hurt good landlords. A tenant already has sufficient avenues to protect him/herself from poor landlords. The items you are considering only hurt the majority of landlords that don’t need laws to do the right thing.
The protections you are reviewing are so poorly written with that they can be abused creating HUGE legal problems for landlords. Tenants have a history of also abusing the system so you should consider protecting those who create jobs, nice homes, pay taxes and support your elections when asked – protect landlords please! Barcor
There are many good reasons to not allow rent control in Culver City. There are many of us responsible apartment owners that do not over charge our tenants; we take pride in our properties. We make rents make sense for us and out tenants enabling both parties to receive fair market value for each. Rent control will put that in jeopardy – we will be unable to repair or improve our properties and then not able to remove problem tenants. No one wins and the city of Culver City will become a less desirable place to own or rent property. Older buildings will be torn down and replaced with new, costly, modern apartments that regular folks can’t afford and the large corporations will use SB1818 to justify buildings no one wants to live in. Just look at areas of Los Angeles where the newer, large scale apartments sit half empty. Until you can change the state laws that incentivize more larger and uglier buildings, rents should be between the property owners and willing tenants. If you don’t know what SB1818 is – look it up. Thank you, Al C.