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Open Letters to Oppose AB 1506 (Rent Control)! – by Michael Millman, Attorney

Posted on 01. Nov, 2017 by in all

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The below letter was sent to Assemblyman Adam Gray

 

Dear Friend:

There is a housing crisis.  In high-tech communities in the Bay area, Santa Monica, West Hollywood and other locations, the municipal leaders have not provided for a plan to promote “affordable” housing.

As our community colleges expanded and had a great deal of discretion or land, they could have constructed inexpensive “work force” housing, but failed to do so.

The single most aggressive community college in the state is the Santa Monica Community College and yet they built no work force housing for their staff or any type of dormitories for their students.  Nothing.

Rent control destroys housing and jobs.  Santa Monica is building luxury hotels to capture the tourism money; the transit/hotel tax is enormous.  Cocktail lounges, restaurants and high-end and expensive boutiques and stores are impregnated all throughout West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Culver City and Santa Monica.

Now, I support bills where there are appropriate bonds, an additional modest fee on a real estate transaction and any program which supports very low income or affordable housing.

So, in Los Angeles, a housing project of five units or less should be able to get a permit over the counter in less than two hours.  A housing project of ten units or less should be able to get their permit returned to them in one week or less.

The state should provide funding for earthquake seismic retrofit.  You will never encourage developers to remain in California if you eliminate the protections afforded by the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Fair Housing Act.  Never.

Our friends at the Tesla car manufacturing group elected to travel to Australia and Nevada to establish production facilities, believing that “California legislators” could not be trusted!  They believe that Proposition 13 would be revised.  There are too many onerous and restrictive regulations in California.

Santa Monica, Berkeley, San Francisco and West Hollywood have suffocating and restrictive rent control.  It is causing small owners to terminate their businesses.  They don’t want to deal with super-aggressive and restrictive bureaucrats.

The unlawful intrusion into tenants’ units in Los Angeles has promoted a CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT seeking to restore privacy to tenants pursuant to the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.  Mandating that tenants identify the rent they’re paying is an invasion of privacy.

Remember, in Los Angeles there is no Housing Commission; no independent commission to oversee the Los Angeles Housing Department.  Tenant activists manipulate and control the Housing Department. Always vote NO for any bill that looks like AB 1506.

 

The below letter was sent to Speaker Anthony Rendon.

 

Dear Mr. Speaker:

There are a dozen or more Democratic Assemblypersons in districts that have a “voter profile” which appears to be fiscally conservative Democrats and Republicans.  Any effort to repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Fair Housing Act would suggest to many that some of our very good friends are not business-friendly.  We worked very hard to re-elect our good friend, Al Muratsuchi.  Much of his district remains moderate Republicans. Monique Limon has a substantial contingency of very conservative Democrats and Republicans.

 

Rent Stabilization or rent pricing or forms of rent control are not well-received or popular in many communities.  Yes, Santa Monica and West Hollywood, as well as sections of San Francisco are not typical.

Although I oppose rent control, it would not shock or surprise me if local entities did pass some regulation that might restrict the annual rental adjustment or increase.  That’s lawful.  What is illegal is an attempt to try to turn back the clock 40 years to a Santa Monica-style rent control wherein the rental unit itself is completely “controlled” and the rent is established and fixed.

We saw that system in Santa Monica, Berkeley and San Francisco and there were reported incidents of deceptive, black market arrangements where persons were secretly paying “key money” to get a rental unit. You’ve heard the stories – prominent motion picture directors and producers renting a one-bedroom, luxury apartment within walking distance of Santa Monica beach for $300 per month or less.

In Santa Monica, the apartment owners simply locked up their units and refused to cooperate.  10,000 units were shut down.  Yes, they let the units remain vacant for four or five years rather than subjecting themselves to the oppressive and restrictive Santa Monica rent control protocols.

Eliminate fully AB 1506 and then convene a meeting of responsible landlords and tenant activists and we can negotiate an arrangement which is fair to all parties.  New construction, single dwelling homes, condominiums, duplexes and granny flats will remain, as always, exempt.  When a unit becomes vacant, these tenant activists want to assert some form of rent stabilization.  That’s where the debate and discussion remained and I think you should convene that meeting and let’s have that discussion!

No amendment to AB 1506.  I think landlords would support a statewide rental voucher system similar to Section 8 vouchers, but more flexible and better designed – a completely voluntary system.  You’re not going to be able to build your way out of a housing crisis.

 

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