One must wonder…, but to me, it appears that the City of Los Angeles and its elected officials are a circus in search of their “Big Top” tent. From the perspective of this rental housing provider, the acts being performed today within City Hall of the once great “City of Angels” only make sense when one realizes that the roles of the elected are being portrayed by a bunch of clowns.
As the Stephen Sondheim song goes, “Send in the clowns.” Yes, we have all heard that song and apparently the voters in the City of Los Angeles have listened and heeded the songs advise. “Send in the clowns…” and that we have. Unfortunately, the actions being undertaken within the City of Los Angeles are not just “a little night music.”
Only in the City of Los Angeles does the “prize” for the largest homeless population get bestowed upon us. You mean opening-up our neighborhood streets to uninhibited parking by camper and recreational vehicles doesn’t solve the homeless problem? How about the tent cities that are pervasive in virtually every neighborhood in Los Angeles? We better get this cleaned up to put a good face on the upcoming Super Bowl and most certainly in time for the Summer Olympics. Sadly, the situation we see on the streets today has become such a pervasive problem that many have become somewhat oblivious to all the drug use, graffiti, prostitution, and crime that have invaded and seemingly conquered our streets.
Take any of these issues be it crime, homelessness, addiction, or even our lousy sidewalks and potholes, while I admit these are all (except for the condition of the sidewalks and streets) complicated issues, I am convinced there are solutions out there. But, unfortunately, “Team City of L.A.” never seems to deploy or even propose any sort of workable solutions that could solve these problems. Defunding the police was an idea put forward, and the City did cut the police budget at a time when crime was just beginning to increase, riots and loss of property was taking place, and now we have constant “smash and grab” robberies and are riding a major crime wave.
On homelessness, it seems the only solutions are conceived by our elected genius, City Councilmember, Mike Bonin…G-d help us all. Other than the obvious camping on our sidewalks or in parked busses in front of people’s homes, Mike has been a proponent of building $550,000 to $650,000 each housing units, more like condominiums, to solve the homelessness crisis. No matter how generous the taxpayers of Los Angeles are and no matter how many billions of dollars in bond money is raised due to the generosity of California taxpayers, perhaps it could be a hundred billion, that will not begin to make a dent in housing the 60,000 or so homeless on our streets today when Mike wants to build housing that costs as much as $650,000. It just makes no sense, and solutions like these are not workable nor sustainable.
So, take the major underpinnings of homelessness…addiction, mental illness and then abuse (not necessarily in that order). Now, if we address each issue separately, the homeless population that suffers from addiction, mental illness or abuse, and work on solutions to those issues, perhaps some headway could be made. Like I said, it is complicated, but something must be done, and quickly. However, the first step would be for those in the City of Los Angeles to admit these problems exist among the homeless population…fat chance! Instead, their rallying cry is always one against us, and that is to complain about “too high” rents and “evictions” by unscrupulous landlords, rather than admitting to the very true underpinnings of why people are living on the streets. Sadly, “we” rental property owners are too easy a target, especially when we have elected feeble-minded politicians who merely pander for renter votes to stay in office and to maximize their government pensions thus allowing them to suck on the teat of the California taxpayer forever, “to death do us part.”
Today, we are still in the midst of the City of Los Angeles eviction moratorium and rent freeze, and there’s no other ordinance like this that remains in effect anywhere in the U.S. today. While inflation runs out of control at unprecedented levels not seen for the last 30 or more years, our rents are frozen until some unknown future date and then one more year thereafter – yes, there’s a 12-month ‘tail’ on the rent freeze. How is that going to work out for us? Do not the officials in the City of Los Angeles get it?
We are being pulled at both ends with not only rent that has been frozen, but billions in uncollected rent due to government-imposed eviction moratoriums. Yet, we have seen no relief from property taxes, rising insurance premiums, higher gasoline prices (OMG, the near $5.00 per gallon gasoline prices!…sometimes more!), doubling of Systematic Code Enforcement Program (SCEP) fees, more than 7% increase in trash hauling fees, permitting every tenant and their representatives to allege harassment for up to $15,000 in penalties, and allowing untold numbers of occupants and pets into our properties. At some point, while pulling us from both ends, the rope is going to snap.
This is all really crazy stuff when you think about it…there’s no logic or business sense in any of it. Even renters who were unaffected by the pandemic, who stayed employed and those who are well off were protected by the City of Los Angeles’ draconian measures that have forced many of us to provide housing services for free and to freeze our pricing for our valuable services. Watching all of this “go down” is like watching the circus, and for the City of Los Angeles, the circus has, long ago, come to town and remains there entrenched at City Hall.
By in large, we are passive investors that have purchased investment properties in or near the communities we live in to house our neighbors and in hopes of one day living our retirement dreams. Many of us had been recent or long-ago immigrants that have saved, put our family members to work in a small business, and sacrificed so that we could purchase an investment property as a seemingly secure income stream and/or to house our families.
However, for the past two years, whether paid or not, we continue to respond to calls from our renters to repair and maintain plumbing, appliances, windows, and more. Sometimes (seems like mostly in my experience) these calls come in on holidays or weekends, when finding a plumber or electrician to do the work is nearly impossible or costs two-to-three times more for after hours or weekend work. Seemingly, we are the ones being punished for a housing problem although we have invested our hard-earned money in and have sacrificed for the only one solution that could solve the problem, which is owning and managing rental housing. This just smacks with irony that the clowns over there at City Hall would want to ‘shoot,’ what in this situation, is merely the messenger.
So, what’s next? In the face of seemingly rampant crime, housing shortages, and the unhoused (forget about the shitty streets and sidewalks), our outgoing mayor has proposed plans to create more green spaces throughout the City of Los Angeles. However, the last time I read the news, Mr. Mayor Garcetti, using large plots of land for parks only leaves us less space to build badly needed housing. And Mr. Mayor, what about that severe drought we are having? How will all that new “green” ever stay “green?” The proposal for more green space, like so many other concoctions brewing in the minds of the City Hall clowns, just does not make sense like many other policies in the City of Los Angeles. Let us all just hope we try something practical that works but often thinking logically and taking the first steps to plan and implement a solution is an approach that never seems possible under the Big Top at City Hall.