Vice-Mayor John Mirisch posted a rhetorical question on Instagram: Do Communists celebrate Christmas? “The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles evidently thinks so. They sent our mayor a ‘present’ equating our efforts to craft a rent stabilization ordinance with Communism.” The Apartment Association likes to equate rent control with socialism but the ‘red scare’ tactic invokes the specter of Leninism. That implies no classes, no private property and of course no religion. So it is ironic indeed to make a Christmas gift of the Communist Manifesto!
City Council held the first scheduled rent stabilization study session last Thursday. This latest step in the 18-month process to reform the ordinance is a sign that the endgame is near. In this first study session, our councilmembers suggested what a final rent stabilization ordinance might look like. However they continue to discuss both the key issues and the process itself. Here’s our recap as we look ahead to the second study session on October 18th.
City of Beverly Hills announced that relocation fees will incrementally rise come July according to the percentage change in consumer prices for our region: a 4.1% increase. While this small bump-up is intended to allow the relocation fees to keep pace with rising rents, tenants will actually lose ground because even with the hike the fees lose ground relative to the cost of rental housing.
Councilmember Lili Bosse closes out her year as Mayor next week when City Council chooses the next Mayor and Vice Mayor on March 20th at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. As we look ahead to our next Council leaders, Gold and Mirsch, I want to thank Mayor Bosse for her support on behalf of tenants.
Mayor Bosse tonight was able tonight to focus 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. There were other areas of council agreement, too, like forming a tenant-landlord committee or board and enact new habitability standards. While the program moved forward, though, the next steps are unclear. Should the key policy questions go to a Council workshop? Get tossed back to the community for more dialogues? Let’s take a look at were councilmembers at the September 5, 2017 meeting were able to find consensus.
This past Sunday, City of Beverly Hills convened the second roundtable dialogue involving committees of tenants and landlords. “We are moving towards a middle ground,” Facilitator Sukhsimranjit Singh said. “We will try to conclude these issues today without war stories.” Like July’s dialogue #5, this dialogue #6 was organized to allow representatives from each side an opportunity to search for common interests in a focused, facilitated discussion. What follows is my summary. (Don’t need to read the details? Read my takeaway from this the session.)
City Council handed residents who rent a major setback tonight when the majority agreed to step away from an earlier, unanimous commitment to create a rental unit registry. Indeed our councilmembers appeared to second-guess their decision to create a registry at all. In retreating, Council signals that Beverly Hills may not yet be ready to regulate rental housing. And that has significant implications for both tenants and landlords as we are a half-year into a rent-stabilization policy process that shows no sign of coming soon to a conclusion.
I know my neighbors are asking, What’s the next step in the rent stabilization policy process? Doesn’t everyone think this way? Well, this coming Thursday City Council will continue discussing the implementation of the new rent stabilization policy. Council will focus on two issues: the creation of a rental unit database & registry to track tenancies across rent-stabilized properties; and identifying a format for facilitated roundtable(s) that would bring residents and landlords together later this year around an equitable rent stabilization policy. Get ready for an important meeting!
I want to thank everyone who responded to my Renters Alliance email and showed up to City Council this past Tuesday. Some were reluctant to speak up, but many of you did with heartfelt comments and observations. Unfortunately, our recommendations on the proposed ordinance, which was released Friday evening on a holiday weekend, were lost in our only one-and-a-half minutes at the microphone. So much for democracy: we saw a fully-baked set of half-loaf policies essentially blessed by City Council. (The other half of the loaf was gobbled by the landlords.)