Measure RP: Thoughts on the City’s ‘Tax Payer Protection Act’

Beverly Hills city council has placed on the November ballot a measure to conditionally add three-quarters of one percent to the sales tax IF Los Angeles County voters at some point in the future approve any increase. Dubbed by city council as the ‘Beverly Hills Tax Payer Protection Act,’ Measure RP would put our city a step ahead of the county by grabbing the resulting revenue. But the measure raises some questions about equity. In this time of unprecedented stress on county health and homelessness services, is it fair to put Beverly Hills first?

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Proposition 15: Yes to Funding for Communities and Schools

We support Proposition 15 on this November’s ballot because it would right an egregious wrong when voters passed Proposition 13 in 1978. That measure was sold on the premise it would limit property-tax increases for older homeowners. But the ballot measure did not distinguish between commercial and residential property, which allowed commercial property investors to surf the cresting wave of tax-revolt in California to a big score. Commercial property owners saw tax assessments rolled-back to 1975 levels and annual increases capped at 2%. It was a gift that’s been giving for four decades. Proposition 15 would force owners of commercial property to pay their fair share while shielding residential property owners from big increases.

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Renters Alliance Endorses Proposition 21

On the November ballot is Proposition 21, “The Rental Affordability Act.” Every tenant should support this ballot measure because it will roll back many, though not all, of the limits on rent control adopted by our landlord-friendly legislature in Sacramento. Nearly every pro-tenant bill each session is shot down by legislators who are not tenants and don’t understand tenant concerns. This by-the-people initiative bypasses the legislature to amend key sections of landlord-tenant law with rental affordability as the top priority. (Heck, it’s right there in the name.) Renters Alliance urges a YES vote on Prop 21!

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Trump’s Executive Order: Too Little for Tenants, and Late Too

The president of the United States on August 8th signed an executive order “to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, residential evictions and foreclosures during the ongoing COVID–19 national emergency.” The rationale was to prevent the “further spread of COVID–19,” but the order didn’t specify any measure to stem the expected wave of evictions. Namely there was no actual prohibition on eviction for non-payment and no provision for subsidies to help tenants. So what did this executive order accomplish exactly?

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Renters Alliance Position on Mandatory Rent Repayment Plans: A Bad Idea!

City council will discuss modifying the urgency ordinance to possibly implement something like a mandatory rent-repayment plan for tenants who seek forbearance of rent due to COVID-19 emergency measures. No other major California city imposes the requirement as a condition for assistance because it means committing the tenant to an additional monthly financial obligation (on top of the regular rent) at a time when economic uncertainty is at its highest. Here are the points I made to city council.

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The Beverly Hills Carbon Footprint: By the Numbers

The coronavirus stay-at-home order has upended daily living for millions in the Southland. Beyond the implications for public health and the economy, hitting the pause button has put in relief the toll that our collective lifestyle choices take on the environment. But that’s so abstract, isn’t it? Two academics looked in greater detail at those choices by zip code and used that data to generate a ‘carbon footprint’ map for the United States. How do we in Beverly Hills compare?

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Property Maintenance in the Era of COVID: Cleanliness Matters!

Residential rental dwellings must be fit for human habitation and free from ‘dilapidations,’ says California Civil Code section 1941. In part that means “all areas under control of the landlord, kept in every part clean, sanitary, and free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, and vermin.” Not a high bar! But not all landlords live up to that standard and during the COVID-19 pandemic we may see some landlords shirk their responsibility.

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Tenant Advocates Spring Into Action with a Call for Rent Relief

Renters Alliance sees the COVID-19 relief promised to taxpayers and businesses as wanting. Taxpayers get a one-time payment of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child and some who need it won’t even get it. But businesses (including apartment landlords) already get plenty of tax breaks and now they’ll get more while small landlords lose out. If tenants and landlords can agree on one thing it is that providing relief to tenants will provide relief to landlords too.

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Tenants Suffer as City Stays Mum on the Revised Moratorium Ordinance

Five days have elapsed since Beverly Hills enacted a revised moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent. Yet we have not heard a word about it from the city: no update to the rent stabilization website, no email announcing it, and no guidance for tenants who cannot pay the rent due to COVID-19. Landlords will take advantage of that information vacuum and tenant uncertainty and anxiety will result. Here’s one example courtesy of landlord Elm Enterprises, LLC.

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Beverly Hills Earns an ‘A’ Grade in This Coronavirus Crisis

Coronavirus has challenged local governments in a way that no public health emergency has before. We see a cascade of executive orders and urgency ordinances that have shuttered businesses, prohibited gatherings and tried to cushion the impact of an economic shutdown in response to this insidious threat. The most surprising: a sweeping embrace of the eviction moratorium. Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch has ensured that our city was among the earliest in the Southland to step up with one. He deserves an ‘A’ grade in a crisis.

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Demystifying Local Emergency Parking Restrictions

City council discussed suspending certain street parking regulations during the local state of emergency. And the city has a very helpful coronavirus webpage where there is a brief blurb about parking guidance posted. But that guidance is too general to be of much help when we are talking about violations that come with penalties among the highest in the Southland. I dug into the city’s website to nail down the details but didn’t realize it would be such a time-consuming challenge.

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