Community Development Director Healy Keene Interview

While we wait for the city’s new consultant to get on the job, we have a lot of questions about the next steps in the rent stabilization policy process, the possible tenant-landlord committee, and in general about the administration of the new Rent Stabilization Program. Community Development Director Susan Healy Keene oversees the new program and generously took her time to answer our questions this morning.

Renters Alliance: Has a rent stabilization program director been hired?

The rent stabilization director has not been hired (although the position is funded). A job specification had to be first generated and then the position posted – which should be soon. The appointment should be made by late December, perhaps.

Will the next step in the policy discussion be a Council workshop or workshops – or will the public be asked to convene for another dialog-type of process? Will facilitator Singh have a role?

Yet to be decided. Will the process resemble the Council’s budget workshop or a priorities-setting exercise? Will Council start with broader questions about policy goals – or simply work though the policy issues in the usual Council setting? Stay tuned: we may know more after November 21st.

Is the initial phase of the rent appeal process concluded? Should tenants expect another round of rent appeals notices to be sent out?

The registry, and the mandatory registration of units by landlords, is a contentious issue that has occasioned much landlord pushback and a lawsuit from one landlord.) Registration of rental units has reached only 80% of owners and comprises 87% of rental units. In turn, all rent notices went out and appeals resolved administrative except for just three appeals, which await a closer examination by a hearing officer. The significant take-away is that the proportionally-larger share of units registered relative to registered owners suggests that, overall, those landlords who control smaller properties may be the laggards.

Will staff provide a recommendation to Council on November 21st as to the scope, purpose and composition of the proposed rent committee or rent board?

Staff has completed an analysis of ‘mediation boards’ for Council consideration. Staff will not make a recommendation but will seek further direction from Council. (The staff report will be posted with the Council agenda late on Friday.)

Will Council consider hiring only one economic consultant, or are dueling consultants under consideration too? What about the list of experts that the Alliance provided to the city – did any make the staff cut?

Tactfully I didn’t ask about the list that we provided. We will know more when the staff report is posted Friday, but it appears that three consultants responded to a request for interest. Subsequently the Council’s ad-hoc committee reviewed them and made a recommendation to be brought forth on Tuesday, November 21st.

Who is the proper staffer with code enforcement who can address tenants’ concerns or answer outstanding code compliance complaints and questions? Community Preservation Manager Nestor Otazu?

Nestor Otazu is the Community Preservation Manager and remains the city staffer to contact with questions about the rent stabilization ordinance and code enforcement. Reach him at or (310) 285–1119.

It has taken the city’s grant-funded legal service program, managed by Community Services, almost four months to get up and running. Will Community Services continue to oversee the program or will Community Development manage it (along with the rent stabilization program) going forward?

For the foreseeable future, the program will remain with Community Services as that department manages the city’s grant fund. (Renters Alliance recommends you contact our provider, Bet Tzedek, directly. Reach out to Caitlin Saggese, staff representative for Beverly Hills, at PLEASE let the Alliance know how you experienced the service. Read more about the program.)

Will Human Relations Commission continue to convene the tenant-landlord forum? What will the commission’s role and responsibilities be going forward when it comes to the rent stabilization program?

It is not clear what role the commission will take going forward.

Renters Alliance thanks Director Susan Healy Keene for taking time to talk about the rent stabilization program. Staff has been working to implement the foundation of the program – the registry – and staffing the ranks at the same time. In some respects the process to date has been as unpredictable for city staff as for tenants. We appreciate that Susan keeps us informed!