Communications Breakdown: It’s Always the Same

Last week City Council voted to make landlords and tenants a majority on our own commission and to task that commission with discussing the policy specifics of the next rent stabilization ordinance. That is a big change in direction, but we wouldn’t it from a visit to the city’s rent stabilization program website! In lieu of a recap of that recent development, the website still posts the announcement for last week’s meeting…as if it were still upcoming.

Website notice of past Feb 5th meeting
A week after this meeting, the announcement is still posted…in the future tense. What we need is a brief recap of the outcome.

There isn’t even is a posted link to the meeting video. This communication breakdown is not new. We’ve griped about the lack of outreach. Where is the RSO bulletin or newsletter? Where is the monthly or quarterly email update? Where are the tenants’ rights seminars?

The Community Development Department’s webpage needs some help too. The mission is too focused on code enforcement and development and not enough on ‘community.’

Community Development Department website screenshot
The Community Development Department mission statement is notable for keeping mum on a key city constituency: residents who rent. Instead the focus is on code enforcement. But contrary to the statement, there is no proactive enforcement in Beverly Hills. That’s what a review of the division concluded last summer. So we tenants are left in the position of layman inspectors putting our tenancy on the line to report health and safety problems.

Communication is simply not job #1 but it should be. Check out Santa Monica’s rent stabilization webpage. There is just a ton of information there. Or West Hollywood’s RSO webpage. Packed with news-you-can-use! Beverly Hills need not reinvent the wheel. Crib this stuff!

Why keep tenants better informed? It keeps us engaged. Give us a simple process timeline so where know where we are. Let us know what are the next steps as the process changes. At least let us know that the city has not dropped the ball on rent stabilization.

Finally, it is not only the rent stabilization program that’s falling down on what should be job #1. Its the city’s whole communication apparatus. How often does City Hall communicate with you? Hardly ever. Even the city’s weekly online newscast (vimeo) gives us the cold shoulder. Rent stabilization affects 7,700 households in Beverly Hills but you wouldn’t know it from Beverly Hills This Week. Not a mention of it over the past ten weeks.

Beverly Hills This Week collage
Nary a mention of the rent stabilization policy process even though it is the most far-reaching city policy discussion in years.

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