This business of rental housing can really make me crazy sometimes! Often, it can be the seemingly “little” things that just set me off. When I get on one of my moods, just stand back everyone and let me be…but, I will and always do eventually calm down. An occasional glass of a great wine often does that for me.
An E.V. Station in Every Pot
Recently, our state lobbyist updated me on the seemingly simple, nonchalant proposal in Sacramento known as Senate Bill 1482. No, I am not talking about the late, great “Assembly Bill” 1482 which forced on all of us statewide rent control and tenant protections a couple of years back. No, this is “Senate Bill” 1482 that would mandate that our building codes in California include requirements to install at least one electronic vehicle charging station at multifamily developments. While this does not apply to existing multifamily properties, my guess is that outcome will be forthcoming in the future.
While seemingly harmless to most of us, albeit it merely adds to the cost of badly needed new housing development necessary to address our state’s housing shortage, it made me think about “what the heck are these politicians thinking with stuff like this.” Sure, I get it. Let’s encourage electric vehicles to save the environment despite today’s electricity primarily being generated by badly polluting coal and natural gas plants. Right, this is the same natural gas, by the way, that cities like Los Angeles and Pasadena and others want outlawed and removed from our kitchen appliances, water heaters and space heaters only to be replaced with electric devices powered with electricity generated with coal and natural gas – “Houston,” do we have a problem here?!!
Anyway, I digress for a moment. Don’t get me started on eliminating natural gas ovens so we can dine on subpar cooking – it just might be the end of Micheline Star restaurants here in California. Am I to lose by backyard barbeque too? And, the cost of converting? Never mind…let’s get back to Senate Bill 1482.
In thinking about Senate Bill 1482, I realized these elected officials we “hire” do not understand the realities that exist outside of the Capitol building in Sacramento. It is almost as if the sky is a different color where they live. So, let’s talk about the real world the rest of us live in and the concept of requiring the installation of electric vehicle charging stations at multifamily properties. The issues surrounding the concept of mandated E.V. charging stations applies to other crazy proposals by way of Sacramento that fortunately have come and gone, and that unfortunately for us in some cases, have stuck around.
I don’t know about you, but in the “real” world the most of us live in outside of the state capitol building, most parking areas at multifamily properties are open and not protected. As a result, electric vehicle charging stations are just another thing that can be damaged by car or human being, tagged with graffiti, possibly broken into (electricity stolen) and run over to cause damage or even a fire. As a result, these E.V. charging stations being mandated to protect our environment will become just another headache for housing providers and a “thing” that rental property owners will have to pay to maintain, have annually inspected, and fix and replace. Another big nightmare if you ask me. And, Sacramento ponders why rental housing costs continue rising?
The idea of forcing owners to provide an amenity that has nothing to do with habitability is just out of line…as usual from our “friends” up there in Sacramento, and our friends in local jurisdictions like Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Santa Monica, among most others. It is practically like asking owners to provide a gasoline pump at their properties – why not!
“Moratoriumism” – Will the Tyranny Ever End?!!
The City of Los Angeles’s infinitely ongoing moratoriums are evictions and rent increase have existed now for more than two years. More than two years!!! We are well past the point when a person can say with a straight face that they continue to be adversely impacted by the coronavirus, and we are now at the point where we can say, “who hasn’t had COVID at this point?” Yet, the saga at City Hall continues and also for all of Los Angeles County thanks to the Board of Supervisors who have extended their COVID protections through June 30, 2023, and who knows how much longer after that they will extend them. It is a crazy, mixed-up world we are in today, folks. Really! Everything is so unbalanced and favors the renters at our properties who lack the one thing we possess, a deed of trust. How is all this fair?!!
Our efforts in this realm, to push-back against these draconian regulations, continue. We have tried our best advocacy efforts to convince the “politicos” on the Los Angeles City Council and County Board of Supervisors to put an end to “Moratoriumism” but to no avail so far. As a result, we have resorted to much tougher methods than détente. Today we have pending lawsuits against both the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County claiming violations of the constitution, which we believe these punitive moratoriums are. Unfortunately, we cannot control the timing of hearings and pace of the court system, but I can assure you that once we prevail, we will seek compensatory damages against the City of Los Angeles, County of Los Angeles, and any other local jurisdiction that imposed one of these draconian ordinances. And we will and must prevail here.
Advocacy Counts – Help Us!
I hear from members all the time suggesting we, meaning me and the limited staff that we have, make phone calls, create lawn signs, leave door hangers, etc., etc. We do appreciate your suggestions always. We do not claim to be experts, nor do we claim to have a “silver bullet” to prevail over every political or regulatory issue. Nevertheless, the gist of what I think I am hearing from some of our members concerns launching some type of grass roots advocacy. This, I believe, is quite a good suggestion and very valid (if that is I fact what some of you had suggested). Unfortunately, “this” has been a major area of frustration for me because I have found it difficult to get property owners engaged in the constant fight we have undertaken. Most often, our “Red Alerts” and calls to action go unnoticed and we, as an apartment association, are standing alone at public meetings or in making comments to the press. Elected officials want to hear from the electors, not from an apartment association. Therefore, please help us. Let your story of how you have been personally wronged be told.
Ongoing Litigation – Please, Help Us!
I often hear from members who want us to file a lawsuit for a multitude of “wrongs” being perpetrated against them and the rest of us, and we do have 5 such lawsuits outstanding today with possibly others to follow. However, and here’s my biggest bone of contention, when it comes to helping our efforts by giving us a story to tell about how one or more members have been harmed I most often get “crickets,” and even worse, when it comes to helping with the costs of litigation now more than $350,000 this past year, I get no response. Not even an offer of one dollar let alone $100.
So, that puts us in a predicament because we are left with limited resources in our fight against a wealthy, bloated government entity that can afford to spend millions of dollars on litigation as if that sum were a mere rounding error. Nevertheless, we will continue fighting these battles until we ultimately prevail. I can also assure you other organizations throughout the U.S. are fighting court battles on these same issues, and with the current make-up at the U.S. Supreme Court, we are hopeful that one or more of these cases will ultimately get a favorable ruling.
Commenting on Housing is Key
Almost daily, I speak to owners who have lost $100,000’s of dollars in rent at the hands of government action and “Moratoriumism.” It is just not fair. We rental property owners are not some huge, faceless corporations, and we are the ones being hurt here while in most cases I have come across, tenants who are merely “gaming” the system while we are being taken advantage of. Isn’t it ironic (I am being facetious here…) that when the state of California announced the rental assistance program, “Housing is Key,” that even greater numbers of renters stopped paying their rent? Just like unemployment fraud, I can guarantee that a great deal of rent relief funds went to those who did not qualify or did not deserve it, and as a result, some who did qualify or that were otherwise left out could have been helped.
Shot Themselves in the Foot!
Not long ago, I was contacted by Mayor Garcetti’s office looking for our help with housing law enforcement trainees. The City of Los Angeles had hoped that after about two years of challenging rent collections, despite moratoriums on evictions and rent increases, and proposals to eliminate our screening procedures, that we would be able to help subsidize housing costs for law enforcement trainees and newly sworn officers. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate our men and women first responders who on a daily basis put their lives on the line to protect those of us in the community.
After hearing the pitch and how much I was going to have to ask our members to discount their rents, I asked the person from the mayor’s office to let the mayor know that the regulations imposed on landlords by the City are a huge impediment to participating in this proposed rent discount scheme (and in general, to accepting vouchers). I expressed with great certainty that owners would love to accept help out with the discounted rent program, but there are too many risks involved today with the City’s moratoriums on evictions and rent increases, anti-tenant harassment ordinances, overzealous inspectors, proposed elimination of tenant screening, and so much more.
Our members had also been asked to take on the risk associated with housing thousands of Afghan refugees, and many had signed up until the County extended its moratorium on evictions until June 30, 2023 – so interest waned.
It is ironic that the government treats people in the housing business like pariahs, but when they need us, they beg for our help. What they are doing is putting us out of business. Sorry to be so totally honest about the current regulatory situation, but the saying “shooting oneself in their own foot” comes into mind here with respect to the City of Los Angeles (and government in general).
Until next month’s diatribe! Speak to you then…