Who to Watch in the Beverly Hills City Council Election

Beverly Hills voters will elect two councilmembers at our upcoming municipal election scheduled for Tuesday, March 3, 2020. For residents who rent this is an important election. Because the rent stabilization ordinance has yet to be finalized, the incoming councilmembers will have real influence over key aspects like the allowed annual rent increase and relocation fees and more. But many other aspects of rental housing regulation are affected too. It is crucial we have a city council that is supportive of tenants’ interests. After all we are more than half of all city households! Here is a look at the announced candidates.

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Double Funding for Bet Tzedek Legal Services for Tenants!

Housing rights legal services provider Bet Tzedek starts the new fiscal year with a 100% bump-up in funding to provide more extensive tenant and senior housing legal services to Beverly Hills residents. Great news because eviction actions are on the rise. But the funding almost didn’t happen when City Council balked at spending $220,000. Cedars Sinai stepped in to save the day with a one-time matching grant.

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Do Communists Celebrate Christmas?

Vice-Mayor John Mirisch posted this rhetorical question on Instagram: Do Communists celebrate Christmas? “The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles evidently thinks so,” he said. “They sent our mayor a ‘present’ equating our efforts to craft a rent stabilization ordinance with Communism.” This ‘red scare’ tactic is all the more ironic because it invokes religion — an anathema to communists!

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Qualified Tenant Subsidy: Help When the Rent Is Too Damned High

One of the ideas to emerge from the City Council’s rent stabilization discussion concerns a ‘qualified tenant’ benefit. Those who pay too much in household income for rent could find relief from the city. An estimated 400 households could qualify under the program. The objective: to cushion rent increases with a cash subsidy. Councilmember Bob Wunderlich proposed to target rent stabilization protections to tenants “who really need it.” What’s it all about?

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RSO Study Session #1: Council Gets to Work!

City Council held its first rent stabilization ‘study session’ last Thursday. This is the latest step in a 18-month policy process to amend the rent stabilization ordinance. The session suggested what a final rent stabilization ordinance might look like: relocation fee schedule, exempted properties and more. However key issues — and the process itself — is still up for negotiation!

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Beverly Hills Will Ban Smoking in Multifamily Properties

After winding its way though the policy machinery for the past year, Beverly Hills City Council has unanimously supported a policy to regulate smoking in multifamily properties (including condominium buildings). Councilmembers spoke up strongly on Tuesday in favor of banning smoking in all apartments, for both new and existing tenancies, and will phase-in the prohibition over an accelerated one-year period. That means all smoking ceases in multifamily properties by January 1, 2019.

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City Council: Let’s Get on With the Program

Mayor Bosse tonight focused councilmembers on several key issues that are necessary to move the rent stabilization program forward: proceeding with a rental registry, funding the program, and hiring a deputy director. Other areas of council agreement included forming a tenant-landlord board and a new habitability standard. While the RSO program moves forward the next steps are yet unclear.

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You Turned Out on Tuesday. What Did Council Do?

I want to thank everyone who responded to my Renters Alliance invitation and attended the City Council meeting this past Tuesday. Some were reluctant to speak up, but many of you offered heartfelt comments and observations. But our recommendations on the proposed ordinance — released Friday night on a holiday weekend — were lost in our allotted one-and-a-half minutes at the microphone. So much for democracy!

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