Michael Weinstein, the leader of AIDS Health Care Foundation which underwrote the Proposition measure “MS” that would have restricted housing developments within the City of Los Angeles to a voting protocol, apparently has sufficient “bonus” funds to underwrite a statewide ballot measure which would repeal and eliminate the protections afforded to apartment owners throughout the state of California as outlined in the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Fair Housing Act.
As you will recall, effective January 1, 1999, all new apartment construction, condominiums, single family homes and accessory dwelling units (granny flats) would be exempt from any form of municipal rent control. Additionally, when a rental unit became vacant, the owners, at their discretion, could re-establish the rents at market rates without permission or approval of the local municipality.
Berkeley, West Hollywood and Santa Monica had restrictive and oppressive rent control wherein units were restricted as to the rent heretofore established – no increase – NONE.
Accordingly, San Francisco, Berkeley, West Hollywood and Santa Monica had tens of thousands of rental units that simply were locked down and remained vacant and not available for rent. Owners would rather keep their units vacant than have to deal with oppressive and restrictive rent control.
In Santa Monica, it was discovered that prominent doctors, accounts, pharmacists, motion picture directors, producers and actors had beautiful beach-side apartments for which they were paying $500 per month. These apartments had patios with commanding ocean views and private garages for their Mercedes and BMW’s. The diverse Hispanic and African-American populations were almost eliminated by Santa Monica rent control. Today, there is a handful of tenants who are paying 1960 prices – who are fully insulated and protected because the vast majority of their apartment buildings are occupied by “market rate tenants”.
Most recently, the Santa Monica Rent Board stated that they were inclined not to “pass-through” any responsibility to tenants for seismic retrofit because the apartment owners had sufficient funds based upon an evaluation that 70% of Santa Monica apartment dwellers were, indeed, young executives paying market rates.
Now, the leaders of Santa Monica for Renters’ Rights want to roll back rents to 1960 prices, make certain that landlords pay for 100% of earthquake retrofits and have no pass-throughs or arrangements for safety features and/or water, sewage and trash. THE CALL TO ACTION IS URGENT: [If we do not stop the destruction of Costa-Hawkins, every and any city in California will be able to do the same! Please donate whatever you can to the AOA Political Action Committee. It’s going to take a lot of money to defeat these tenant groups!]
Municipalities use the Consumer Price Index, (CPI) to set the annual rental adjustment. However, CPI is illegitimate. The basket of 213 items examined by the CPI fails to address the overwhelming, vast majority of operating expenses of apartment owners. Water, sewage, trash and other items that are incredibly expensive are not addressed. Trash hauling in Los Angeles has increased by 300% or more!
So, each of you should attend your AOA meetings. Get to know their Political Action Committees and you should willingly contribute. We will need money to engage and employ professional political consultants to challenge and attack a statewide initiative. We will need to do polling, focus groups and create a proper “message” and a proper campaign. Donate what you can TODAY!
The below letter was sent by Michael Millman to Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times:
Dear Mr. Lopez: Over the last nine months or longer, you’ve written a series of articles suggesting that landlords are greedy, lack compassion and are driven only by some type of “magic profit”. The formula? Your information is slanted, inappropriate and wrong.
Let’s start at the beginning. Approximately 39 years ago, our political elected officials (City Councilpersons and others in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, Berkeley and Santa Monica) told their constituency and voters that rent control would never be extended to single family homes, condominiums or accessory dwelling units known as granny flats. They also stated that to encourage and promote new housing, rent control would never be extended to new construction. That was the solemn promise.
Your article suggests that political people betray that promise. You want rent control extended to houses, condominiums and new construction. You want a rental unit that becomes vacant based upon a voluntary surrender arrangement to be rented at mid-1970 prices, or less.
You have no interest in focusing on the escalating costs of trash retrieval, water, sewage, property taxes, parcel taxes, bonds, insurance, municipal fees, flooring, roofing, plumbing, appliances, window trim or any other operating expenses. Some cities have suggested that the costs of operational management on these apartments have gone up almost 200% from 2007! Yet, you won’t do the investigation.
If you and I went to East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, City Terrace or Southeast Los Angeles, we’d see in the parking lots brand new motor vehicles and inside the apartments – 60” flatscreen TVs, top of the line iPhones, computers and other luxury items. Our tenants are living well.
Our tenants in West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Culver City, Glendale, Pasadena and Burbank are probably making $300,000 per year or more and living in rent-controlled units! But, your story fails to address the reality.
I respect you. I know that you’ve promoted for years proving financing for certain types of individuals suffering from schizophrenia and other emotional challenges. Congratulations. However, I’m now advised that you spend your time initiating “propaganda” suggesting that family-owned apartment groups should be punished.
When a rental unit becomes vacant, you don’t want them to increase the rent to fair “market rates”. The Costa-Hawkins Fair Housing Act of 1995 has been underwriting and subsidizing historically low renters for the last 30 years. It works. It protects and preserves rent control.
You’re correct, very smart. Wall Street investors discovered that building shopping centers, warehouses or other commercial outlets is a failed financial formula. So these hedge funds started buying up small homes in Cheviot Hills, Westwood, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Playa del Rey, Westchester and Rancho Park. They tore down the little houses and built mini-mansions. They make, on the resale, perhaps $1,000,000 or more. In the course of a year, they probably made for their hedge funds $40 million to $50 million, or more. Next, they started tearing down distressed apartments in East L.A. and Southeast L.A. and built up semi-luxury units. They made money.
The L.A. City Council promoted this gentrification. Venice, California is a monument to gentrification. Why don’t you promote a “statewide” Rental Emergency Hardship Voucher System? Renters could go to the Department of Motor Vehicles, have an examination as to their finances, get a voucher and then pay the landlord. PAY THE LANDLORD! Let’s meet!
Michael Millman is an Attorney and a Mar Vista activist and can be reached at (310) 477-1201.
If you haven’t already done so, please make sure you contact the mayor and your councilpersons regarding your troubles due to this new law.
Mayor of Los Angeles
Eric Garcetti, City Hall, 200 N. Spring Street Rm #303, Los Angeles, CA, 90012 – [email protected] – (213) 978-0600
Mailing address for All City Council Members
City Hall, 200 N. Spring Street (Rm #), Los Angeles, CA 90012
District 1 – Gil Cedillo: [email protected] or room 460 – (213) 473-7001 or (323) 550-1538
District 2 – Paul Krekorian: [email protected] or room 435 – (213) 473-7002 or (818) 755-7676
District 3 – Bob Blumenfield: [email protected] or room 415 – (213) 473-7003 or (818) 774-4330
District 4 – David Ryu: [email protected] or room 425 – (213) 473-7004 or (323) 957-6415
District 5 – Paul Koretz: [email protected] or room 440 – (213) 473-7005 or (323) 866-1828
District 6 – Nury Martinez: [email protected] or room 470 – (213) 473-7006 or (818) 778-4999
District 7 – Councilwoman Elect Monica Rodriguez: [email protected] or room 455 – (213) 473-7007 or (818) 756-8409
District 8 – Marqueece Harris- Dawson: [email protected] or room 450 – (213) 473-7008 or (213) 485-7616
District 9 – Curren Price: [email protected] or room 420 – (213) 473-7008 or (213) 485-7616
District 10 – Herb Wesson (President): [email protected] or room 430 – (213) 473-7010 or (323) 733-8233
District 11 – Mike Bonin: [email protected] or room 475 – (213) 473-7011 or (310) 575-8461
District 12 – Mitchell Englander (President pro tempore): [email protected] or room 405
District 13 – Mitch O’Farrell: [email protected] or room 480 – (213) 473-7013 or (213) 207-3015
District 14 – Jose Huizar: [email protected] or room 465 – (213) 473-7014 or (323) 526-9332
District 15 – Joe Buscaino: [email protected] or room 410 – (213) 473-7015 or (310) 732-4515