This article was posted on Saturday, Sep 01, 2018

Below are open letters from Attorney Michael Millman opposing the Affordable Housing Act.

Dear Mayor Garcetti:

I’m certain that when you served on the City Council and chaired the Council Housing Committee, you always made certain that important housing legislation was thoroughly examined, reviewed and evaluated by not only tenant rights representatives, but also several apartment association staff and leaders.  Your outreach was outstanding.

On June 13, 2018, the Housing Department sponsored 16 pages of revisions and modifications to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance.  It was stealth.  There was no outreach to any of the prominent apartment associations – AOA, CAA, Fair Housing Coalition or others.  NONE.

Substantial and inappropriate modifications and changes were made to the code inspection protocol and of course, the authority granted to the Hearing Officer at a general manager hearing or meeting.  Apparently, inspectors were now granted the “legal authority” to place landlords under arrest if the inspector had a reasonable belief that there was a code violation or infraction.

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When you were a Council person, on how many separate occasions were you aware that the carbon monoxide/smoke alarms were disengaged or otherwise destroyed by the tenants, with no knowledge by the landlord?  None.  Under this scenario, the landlord would be placed in custody and thereafter incarcerated.  Can you imagine the difficulty seeking and securing employment with an arrest record?  Can you imagine the expense and cost of retaining and engaging an attorney to handle the criminal proceeding and bail hearing?

Next, these regulations were fast-tracked to the City Council, placed on the agenda as a consent vote only and the public was denied the opportunity of comment!

You grew up in a household where “fair play” and “due process of law” was always paramount and essential.  Perhaps there are reasons to modify or amend the Rent Stabilization Ordinance, but at least get the City Attorney, Housing Authority, landlords and tenant activists in a room, have a robust discussion and make an arrangement that’s fair.

Dear Friends and Tenants:

As you’re aware, most recently, Inglewood, Glendale, South Pasadena, Pasadena, Long Beach and other municipalities have rejected some form of rent control.

Cities did not wish to be “hijacked” by a small group of tenant eviction attorneys and union agitators.  For many years, our union friends have failed to insist upon and provide for “workforce housing” for their members and others. Yes, they negotiated living wages and other benefits, however, they neglected to insist that the school board or other municipal groups and agencies set aside appropriate land to build housing for their employees.

Rents are increasing because the overall cost of apartment management has dramatically increased – mortgage rates, property taxes, increased school bonds, parcel taxes, insurance, water, sewage and trash expenses.  Municipal leaders, in an effort to hide taxes, use secret formulas for new administrative fees and charges.

So, falsely promoting and believing that rents will be lowered, Michael Weinstein from the AIDS Foundation and others offered a misleading, deceptive Affordable Housing Act.  It will not lower rents.

Under the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Fair Housing Act, rent control works.  When a rental unit becomes vacant, it is re-rented at prevailing market rates.  The new tenant, paying higher rent than others, underwrites and subsidizes current tenants residing in rental units, whose rents are substantially lower and cheaper.  This system works because current tenants have housing which is voluntarily underwritten by the new tenants.  DO NOT DESTROY a system which is functioning and working.

The solution to the affordable housing problem is for municipalities to build more housing – promote density bonus units, waive parking and height restrictions at or near Rapid Transit outlets such as trains and special buses.  VOTE NO ON THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING ACT!

Dear Mr. Tru:

This year, I had the opportunity of meeting you.  I was invited to Sacramento with a delegation from Los Angeles.  You were thoughtful, cordial and very professional in your comments and observations.  I enjoyed the meeting and I benefitted from our exchange; thank you.

False Narrative – Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, Tenants Together and other tenant activist groups are proposing and promoting a “false narrative” wherein it is suggested that California housing costs are spiraling out of control. California’s economy is booming yet there are many living in poverty.

It’s suggested that Wall Street corporate landlords are attempting to purchase single family homes in underserved neighborhoods and after renovations, are re-offering the homes at appropriate “market” rents, and to that extent, this type of “gentrification” is displacing families and others.

It’s suggested that Americans who use their skill, knowledge, training and financial abilities to profit from hard work should not enjoy a profit.

It’s suggested that during the downturn of the economy in 2007, when corporate landlords purchased distressed properties and foreclosures and spent millions of dollars rehabbing the properties, they should not offer them for rent at market rates.

It’s suggested that the housing crisis is a direct result of the “disastrous laws” – Costa-Hawkins and the Ellis Act.

Solution – Rent Control – Everyone agrees that municipalities and others have failed over the last 15 years to set aside and build housing for the underserved.  2017 allowed the Governor to sign a progressive housing package of 15 bills.  We will attempt to streamline building permits.  Granny flats or accessory dwelling units will be encouraged and promoted.  Tenants will be encouraged to pay for their own water, sewage and trash, pursuant to SB 7.

However, our friends in the Federal Government have made no effort whatsoever to modify the Section 8 program to make it available to landlords.  Once you sign a Section 8 agreement, you can never opt out.  The inspection protocol often requires a landlord to leave the unit vacant for four to six weeks until the inspection is completed by HUD.  So, this program has failed.

Landlord groups want the state to adopt a voucher program which is expeditious and fair.  You’re certainly well aware that rent control jurisdictions use Consumer Price Index for the annual adjustment.  That formal is illegitimate – it was abandoned and rejected inNew York City.

The actual operating costs have probably increased by over 400% since 2007.  Many believe the true operating expenses are in the range of seven to nine percent per year, or more. West Hollywood allows a 1% annual increase. Santa Monica allows a 2% annual increase and Los Angeles is 3%.  Is this fair??

If you want to address water conservation, then tenants should be obligated to pay for water, sewage and trash.

in Los Angeles, earthquake retrofit is partially shared with tenants.  West Hollywood and Santa Monica want landlords to pay for everything, alleging that the landlords have substantial profits because of the Costa-Hawkins legislation.

Negotiations are possible; compromise is possible.  However, single family homes, granny flats, condominiums and new construction would have to be exempt.  There is a discussion concerning those units built after 1978 through 1999.  Yes … a discussion.  When a rental unit becomes vacant, it’s possible to install an “artificial cap” on the increases provided we discuss and resolve rental units which have historically low rents, family members, owners or managers.  A reasonable adjustment would be required.  The annual rental adjustment on all tenants in all control jurisdictions would have to be at least 7% per year.  Tenants will pay for water, sewage, trash and municipal fees.  Safety measures such as earthquake retrofit would be on a 50-50 basis. So, there is a discussion to be promoted.  It should be respectful, thoughtful, well-reasoned and professional.

Drastic measures such as the repeal of the Ellis Act and Costa-Hawkins and split roll tax approaches are inappropriate, wrong and disastrous.  The industry needs to set a meeting.  Realtors, building trade unions, building associations and the apartment associations need to be “at the table.”

I want to protect the “mom and pops”.  I’m not interested in corporate speculators. However, it is the insidious disease of “rent control” which has killed and destroyed jobs and housing.

Let’s all meet.

[AOA:  We must stop this type of government and tenant control of our property!  We have the opportunity to help do just this by defeating the tenants’ free rent “Proposition 10” that will be on the November ballot.  Please use the Costa-Hawkins donation form below and join the fight of our lives to save our property!]



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