This article was posted on Thursday, Sep 01, 2016

I live in Los Angeles and I am a Trial Attorney.  My family has rental properties in Los Angeles and Santa Monica.  I have fought and litigated in both Los Angeles and Santa Monica against restrictive, unlawful, illegal and oppressive rent control. 

Many of my friends and others believe that I have expert experience with the Rent Stabilization Ordinance, systematic code inspections and the Rent Escrow program (REAP).  So, it’s been suggested that Long Beach would benefit from some form of “Rent Stabilization” which might include an aggressive inspection program, possibly REAP and then new protocols wherein housing providers could not support a lawful eviction without satisfying a number of municipally imposed, stringent and restrictive standards.  This is called “just cause” eviction. 

Rent Control – A Train Wreck

Municipalities have experimented with rent control and later abandoned the program.  In New York City, there were thousands of reported cases wherein rental units were sold on the black market to avoid rent control.  Dishonesty, trespass, theft and fraud arose.

Cambridge, Massachusetts adopted a form of rent control and thereafter terminated the program.

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In Los Angeles, at the inception of the RSO, there were approximately 1,300,000 rental units under the RSO jurisdiction and today there are slightly more than 600,000.

Losing over a half million or more rental units to rent control is certainly compelling and conclusive evidence that rent control destroys and marginalizes affordable housing.  Yes, in Los Angeles, there have been hundreds of thousands of new rental units built however, under the state law, they are exempt from rent control and they are luxury units at “market” rent. 

In Santa Monica, approximately 85% of the rental units are being offered at market rent, and not otherwise subject to restriction on the rental price.  Yet, Santa Monica’s rent control budget is $5,000,000 per year, of which 85% is for staff and employees.  The average rent control staff person receives approximately $171,000 per year.  So, if you’re leadership in “Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights”- you might want to help your friends, neighbors and perhaps a relative get a terrific position on the staff of the rent control group so that they can earn a great deal of money for doing next to nothing.  There is little or nothing for these individuals to do.   The reason being that most, if not all, of the rental units being built in Santa Monica are luxury units exempt from rent control and the remaining units are persons who are paying luxury unit prices because they are newly vacated. 

Long Beach Rent Control?

Rent control requires that you build a department wherein you have Hearing Officers, staff and attorneys.  Who’s going to pay for a new municipal department?

Most of the inspectors have little or no background, experience or qualifications.  The Hearing Officers do not understand the United States Constitution, due process or even the provisions that prevent municipalities and government from taking property without fair notice and a hearing. So, as a friend from Los Angeles, I oppose any form of rent stabilization or rent control in Long Beach. 

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