June 13, 2021 on Housing
(The city is considering a landlord harassment ordinance. Some support it, some oppose it. The council file number is 14-0268-S13 where you can see the draft ordinance and comments form the Public. City website . Below if one of my numerous comments made to the committee.)
Communication from Public
Name: G. Juan Johnson
Date Submitted: 06/02/2021 03:06 PM Council File No: 14-0268-S13
Comments for Public Posting:
Dear Committee Members and Mayor and Council:
99% of the current stock of upcoming new housing is market rate and luxury housing. I am a resident of Los Angeles. The city needs mandatory 80% new housing for moderate and affordable income tenants.
Combatting harassment by landlords goes hand in hand with making sure there is first enough housing, and as your efforts point out, making sure that landlords are not engaged in illegal retaliation against tenants who complain about code violations.
The city officials must also take efforts to hold the $200,000 per year code violation inspectors more accountable for diligent enforcement of the state Building and Safety Code and the state Health and Safety Code. Tenants have died in some of these substandard housing buildings. The city cannot afford to employ housing inspectors that are racially biased or retaliatory against Black tenants (or any tenants) who engage in constitutionally protected activity.
Further, I support the intent of the ordinance but there are numerous local and state ordinances that already address housing harassment add retaliation. I feel like this will be one more hurdle that will be used to confuse tenants. If the city wants to stop harassment, let the city government sue the landlords on behalf of the tenants, which I believe the city already has the authority to do under the REAP PROGRAM in that the city government can make the repairs and bill the owner plus 50%.
It also makes no sense to pass an ordinance that the city government is ill equipped to enforce or often does not enforce in order to favor landlords. I would like to see code enforcement inspectors Marcel Nicolas and Luis Tolentino terminated from employment for refusing to investigate code violations submitted by Black tenants.
My main concern is substandard multi-family apartments that often lack proper screens, have cracks or holes in interior walls, or have non-working intercom systems. Hundreds of apartments and condos have
intercom systems, a health and safety housing service. Code inspectors have jurisdiction over “any nuisance”, “general dilapidation or improper maintenance” and “any building or portion thereof” (H & S code section 17920.3).
I have read the housing committee report that was filed 6/2/2021 and I comment: Item 1.B. The disconnect occurs when the tenant reports the need for maintenance, code inspectors refuse to address it, and the landlord says the repairs are not needed. Local law as well as the health and safety code uses the phrase “including but not limited to” which I think should be included here in the suggested ordinance. Section 1.H. should specify examples of what is “written notice” and that the city should be copied. Section 1.I. is duplicative of LAMC 41.33 which reads: “Peaceful Enjoyment”. LANDLORDS – DISTURBING TENANTS. “No person, except a duly authorized officer pursuant to the authority of legal process, shall interfere with the peaceful enjoyment, use, possession or occupancy of any premises by the lawful lessee or tenant of such premises either by threat, fraud, intimidation, coercion, duress, or by the maintenance or toleration of a public nuisance, or by cutting off heat, light, water, fuel or free communication by anyone by mail, telephone or otherwise, or by restricting trade or tradesmen from or to any such tenant.”
Your committee proposes the punishment as a “misdemeanor”. Really and who will that stop? The penalty should be $10,000, sliding scale. And make it a felony. As appears on the Mark Ridley-Thomas social media FB: “Still cannot get fair housing at this location and inspectors Luis Tolentino (Asian) and Marcel Nicolas (Black) retaliated against me when I made code violation complaints and refused the inspection saying I as a Black was being “argumentative”. So is it true in your administration Blacks should be muffled who make code violation complaints? Do you have any code violation inspectors who are not racist? Have you ever read the Unruh Act CC 51?”
In 2016 I sued the state, county, and city governments alleging systematic pattern and practice housing discrimination. A federal Judge is now agreeing with me in the court’s fight to provide adequate city affordable housing for the homeless.
Please see the web blog “Killing Hi Point” or at website “LA Rent Control (RAC) and Permits (LADBS)”. So much harassment of tenants by landlords (and lack of enforcement) is a good reason why people should think twice about relocating here.
Sincerely, G. Juan Johnson, former candidate for Mayor of Long Beach, California.
(See Council file. June 2, 2021. At 3:06 pm and pages 23-24. Published to the internet by the city clerk’s office. )
Feb. 22, 2021 on Housing
Ah, I remember the NIMBY people. Rather than have a city wide plan that addresses housing and homelessness, we have such lack of leadership that it looks like the job is left up to the NC's, who at best do not have adequate resources. I feel the overall strategy is like a chicken with their head cut off. I think it was controller Galperin that said the city owns over 2,000 vacant lots. Could we use those to help house the homeless? Tiny Homes anyone? A Tiny Home is much cheaper than paying $300,000 to build one residential unit.
People who don't know the homeless and don't work with them, may not understand that the homeless without vehicles gravitate to where the services are (restrooms, food, clothing, other services). If people are sleeping in their cars, it is because we as a city have not done anything to make services more accessible. We are quick to penalize but very slow to mobilize our resources into a coherent patchwork of services. We just push the homeless form one street to the other without solving the problem, then we complain "What's wrong with those homeless people!". All across the city sometimes we see neatly lined brand new tents, but many make their own not so nice looking tent cities.
Did you know that in December 2019 a group of homeless advocates sued the city to help bring about more housing. I read the transcript where the federal Judge met with numerous city officials and homeless advocates and told them for various reasons that he did not expect them to help more than 60% of the homeless. Therein lies the problem coming from a federal Judge.
We need zero tolerance to homelessness but then we also need to not be so hypocritical to keep building 99% market rate housing and expect that we will magically fill the need for 85% affordable and moderate income units. Killing Hi Point . . Our zoning and planning practices create the problem and then we want to blame God knows someone else. The city planning commission wrote in their January 21 2021 agenda: "Understand how structural racism has been built into our existing policies; amplify the voices of people most impacted by racist policies; and develop the City Planning commission’s anti-racist and equity framework to guide decision making on projects and policy." I worry about that word "equity". I would rather see "full and equal" housing services. G. Juan.
Housing news as seen on Facebook campaign page excerpts
“DEVELOPERS TO ELIMINATE PARKING ON HI POINT ST 90035”
COMMUNITY HELP AND CAMPAIGNING.
I attended the July 25, 2019 meeting of the Pico Neighborhood Council Land Use Committee. There was overview and discussion of numerous housing related projects. It was a lively crowd of resident tenants and property owners making suggestions for dealing with the Los Angeles housing crises. There was a presentation from the CEO of UP(st)ART Creative Living who is set to install 48 beds in a four unit apartment building on 1200 Block of Cloverdale Avenue. It was confusing as to the legal status of the property as the CEO said it was a rent controlled building, that he is the lessee, but the installation of 48 beds will make the building presumably home sharing. Resident tenants objected to the impact the program might have on the neighborhood as regards noise and nuisance. I was particularly interested in a development proposed for 1529 South Hi Point St 90035 as I live directly across the street. Proposed is a five story building with 14 units of which two will be affordable income units. (Hardly sounds like that will solve the housing crises. What kind of money would it take to make the building 100% affordable? Or is money not the problem?). There will be 16 parking spaces underground. I objected to the project on the grounds (1) it will eliminate street parking during construction (2) it will eliminate street parking after construction, and (3) the building should be 85% affordable units. Other meeting attendees also questioned the project and its impact on the neighborhood of Hi Point between Pickford and Saturn; this street faces four or more other construction projects in various stages of development. During construction, parking will be taken up by construction crews, thus eliminating resident parking. Demolition can last until 9 pm at night. One committee member stated that the city is now requiring all new buildings to contain a minimum of two affordable units.
IN OTHER NEWS: In 2016, the population of Los Angeles 10th District was 275,480: 24% owned their own home, 76% rented. 1,112 were homeless. 25% were Black, 49% Latino, 9% white, and 16% Asian. 23% lived below 100% of the federal poverty level, and 48% lived below 200% of the federal poverty level. There were 758 serious crimes compared to the LA County with 551 serious crimes. Tenants are in the majority; will they ever fight back?
IN MORE NEWS: it sure can take a lot of people to make a mess of the housing dilemma. No one person by themselves could screw things up so badly. One group, the California Housing Partnership, claims on its website that it trained 20,000 people on affordable housing finance and policy, accessed $1.45 billion dollars, obtained public and private financing of $18 billion, and created and processed 70,000 homes for the low income. Yet after all this work over the years, California still suffers a shortage of over 517,000 homes for the over 750,000 renter households. The City of Los Angeles alone accounts for housing needs for 50,000 homeless persons. “Between 2016-2018, production of Low Income Housing Tax Credits dropped 31 percent. Those federal tax credits are traded by investors and ultimately fund development and maintenance of affordable housing. They fund anywhere between 20 to 70 percent of development costs for all below-market rate rental properties.” https://therealdeal.com/la/2019/05/21/la-county-is-short-half-a-million-affordable-units-report/ . Based on the California Housing Partnership affordable housing outcome report, the City of Los Angeles area (SD2) has 29,853 government funded affordable homes. It categorizes housing as deeply low income, extremely low income, very low income, low income, moderate income, and above moderate income. There is a surplus in SD2 (city Los Angeles) of above moderate income housing of 19,293 units. Thus in my opinion there is no need for more market rate housing (unless developers are greedy). But there is a shortage of over 206,000 affordable housing units. SHORTAGE!
IN MORE NEWS: Before you jump up and run down to the nearest low income housing project, remember the process is not the same as applying for a rent control or market rate housing. Units for the affordable or “income restricted” may be governed by an application lottery process, waiting list, and other application forms that could take weeks, not days. Even if you pass the application process, there may not be any current vacancies.
HOUSING SERVICES DENIED? PUT SOME MONEY IN YOUR POCKET. Many tenants in rent controlled units complain of lack of maintenance. The city of Los Angeles has determined that maintenance is a housing service. If you are denied maintenance, without a corresponding reduction in rent, you could be paying an illegal rent and entitled to a rent reduction. The city unfortunately has been accused of barely enforcing the rent control laws, so be forewarned. The bright side is that many city laws give tenants a private right of action to sue the landlord in court. So what is the value of a housing service? Let’s say your building elevator has not been working for months. This affects all tenants. Let’s say the city determines that elevator is worth $25.00 per month. That $25 will be calculated for every month you are without service. So $25 x 36 months would be $900. This would be the same amount you could sue for in court action, etc.
IN OTHER NEWS: All tenants at 1522 Hi Point St apartments are named in a discrimination complaint filed with the state department of fair employment and housing.
IN MY OPINION. The city of Los Angeles needs to have zero tolerance for lack of housing maintenance. (GJJ Jul 28 20)
Types of affordable housing include subsidized housing, public housing, section 8 housing, senior housing, mixed income housing, permanent supportive housing, rent stabilized housing, and tax credit housing (below). In the comment section, I will post an additional link to 2011 guide to affordable rental housing in Los Angeles.
Tax credit housing FAQ
2011 Guide to affordable rental housing in Los Angeles
CAMPAIGN TRAIL LOS ANGELES- I visited DTLA 6th street today and it is still the homeless encampment. Maybe the city could buy manufactured homes or mobile RV's and use them to replace the tenant tents. Let the tenants keep their tents but the manufactured homes or mobile RVs could be temporary replacements in the same place the "homeless" now live. Rows of mobile RVs instead of rows of tents. Might look much neater. Mayor Garcetti says he has "proven" methods but it does not take ten years or ten months to supply some mobile RV's or manufactured homes. The mayor cites the Bridge Home program but that is temporary housing (the homeless already have temporary tents) so where is the permanent housing so desperately needed? https://www.mobiliferv.ca/
CAMPAIGN TRAIL- From July 10 protests and tenant information gathering at 1200 W 7th Street at Los Angeles Housing Department and Rent Control Departments. I was there in support with numerous tenants rights groups. Bringing housing corruption from the shadows into the light. Yes, Virginia, you can fight city hall! The lady in black with walkie talkie was security person assigned to take pictures of the peaceful assembly of tenants from all walks of life seeking fair housing in Los Angeles. Why was she taking pictures: is it a crime to ask for fair housing? The Los Angeles “Turf Wars” - Should affordable and market rate housing exist side by side? Nobles Knights & Serfs- The Middle Ages
July 1 2019 to Facebook
MORE CAMPAIGNING AT JORDAN DOWNS- I visited Jordan Downs again to see what housing ideas they have for this District 10. This is the development to replace the dilapidated projects with brand new buildings and plaza. The pros are that some of the residents seem happy to move into a new home, I am told that all residents will be offered a chance to move into new units at the same rent amount, that currently most of Jordan Downs is affordable income restricted, and that there are jobs available at the construction sites for local residents. Described as "tax credit apartments" in the brochure, the affordable rents range from $983 to $1371 for two bedrooms. Looks like about 140 units available in the first phase which may include market rate; I am not sure if all current tenants are moving at once. The cons are that the entire development will take ten years to complete. The renovations are being done in stages so I am not sure why it will take so long; after all, it only takes 4-7 months to build a house. There is also a lot of dust from construction which may be hazardous to health. I also don't like that the current residents are living in what looks like buildings in need of paint and grass in need of care in this Public Housing operated complex, and how long they will be living like this. Another consideration of moving here and paying market rate rent, is the surrounding area.
The campaign facebook link is
June 24 2019 to Facebook Campaign Page
GARCETTI'S JORDAN DOWNS- "I visited the Jordan Downs Saturday June 22. This is the site of the dilapidated Public Housing Project where the city says it is building "1400 of mixed income housing and 100,000 square feet of retail space". I am told this is operated by the city but receives federal funding. I read other articles that say 714 units so I am not sure how many will be "affordable" which is "low, very low, and extremely low income families" and how many will be "unrestricted income" (market rate) housing. Some say the rents will be locked at such rates for 5 years, but I received conflicting stories as to will tenants be automatically switched to new units or will they have to undergo further processing like be forced to be on section 8. I wanted to see is this the type of mixed use project that we need more of in West Los Angeles rather than the current move to 99% market rate luxury housing. The move of tenants to new units I am told has not started but it will be in stages that could last ten years before the project is completed. There had been an investigation that the new buildings were arising on contaminated soil but I was not able to confirm this. Some tenants seemed wary of moving into the new units for that reason. As I briefly surveyed the current older buildings, I noticed buildings in need of a serious paint job, grounds that were not well kept (you can see the pictures). Mind you, this is "government" operated housing. (Mind you, the lack of maintenance of the paint and lack of landscaping is not the fault/responsibility of the tenants.) I noticed there were no barriers erected to keep tenants from hazardous construction dust, and many cars were covered with construction dust. You can see the prison like numbers listed on the site as "Bldg 54", etc. This is Mayor Eric Garcetti's Los Angeles where he says they are spending $2.7 million to put bathrooms on Skid Row for the gentrified Olympic visitors. How about the city spend some of that money to PAINT Jordan Downs. People still live at Jordan Downs, Garcetti!"
June 23 to Facebook
"At my building I've been trying to get an intercom fixed for for over four years, while mostly white affluent tenants around me get a new one. At my building I cannot get tandem parking, much less a response from the owner or the management company. But I wonder how much will the city spend on a toilet? $2.7 million for Skid Row bathrooms. I guess I should ask for a bathroom instead of intercom and parking. Yes, Garcetti says we gotta get Skid Row cleaned up before the Olympics. So we are not cleaning it up for the people, just for the Olympics. Like Jordan Downs where brand new buildings sit next to dilapidated buildings because city fathers care more about the buildings than they do the people in them. "As Los Angeles gears up to host major sporting events such as the Super Bowl in 2022, the College Football National Championship Game in 2023 and the Olympics in 2028, all eyes will be on the City of Angels." Read this article and you will see how long it took the city to allocate $2.7 million for bathrooms. As everyone knows in Los Angeles, a lack of money has never been the problem: but housing discrimination and lack of accountability is a BIG problem. $2.7 million out of $85 million."
What will you get for $54,000 ?
Support G. Juan Johnson for District 10
WHAT WILL YOU GET FOR $54,000
In Los Angeles, some say the price to rent ratio is 38%. That would mean in order to pay rent of $1710 per month, your combined household salary would have to be $54,000. Another example, on the same percentage, in order to afford rent of $1266, your income would have to be $40,000.
In order to afford an apartment renting at $2,000 per month, your household income should be $64,000. (That could be a couple each making $32,000 per year.) Obviously, you want to pay attention to the ratio because it accounts for taxes and other bills: if the ratio is too high like 60% then probably your other bills won’t get paid.
The California minimum wage will increase from $11/hour to $12/hour in 2019. How much rent can you afford if you are making $12.00 / hour? Your gross will be $24,000 per year and you will be able to afford a shoebox (kidding) rent of $760 per month.
(LA County unincorporated areas minimum wage is $13.25)
WHAT DO CERTAIN JOBS PAY
On average, security guards make $27,000 (per year), bus drivers salary $33,000, firefighters $49,000, secretaries $37,000, high school teachers $59,000, accountants $69,000, dentists $158,000.
“I support increased pay for teachers. I will continue those policies of Herb Wesson that have had a positive effect on residents. I will also fight for greater response time and accountability by government to resident complaints. The last four years I have worked hard to assure that tenants receive the benefit of all housing laws, and that tenants were aware of being cheated out of rent entitlements by the city government and a select few dishonest landlords. I believe my experience in government, retail management, and legal advocacy will greatly benefit all residents.” G. Juan Johnson- December 11, 2018
District 10 has over 132,000 registered voters.
I support permanent voting rights for African American citizens. I support a city ordinance bringing mandatory fines against apartment owners who do not respond to tenant complaints in a timely manner. I support the city suspending the business license of those apartment owners accused of housing discrimination. Rent increases should be denied where it is shown that landlords have not met health and safety standards, or have denied housing services.
It is my belief that over the past four years that the city of Los Angeles has an ample supply of low income and very low income housing. But the housing is not made available due to a disconnect (racism, corruption, lack of accountability). I believe the solutions to unemployment and lack of housing are simpler than government employees make them appear.
A lot of housing is government financed income based housing like HUD housing, tax credit housing properties, LA Housing apartments. Unfortunately there is not a centralized clearinghouse, so residents will have to look in multiple places for the unit information. Add to this the TOC (transit oriented communities yet to come) and the rent control properties. A good number of other units are privately owned and financed and generally not subject to the income based qualifications. Sometimes “affordable units” are not publicly advertised by landlords or released to city public registries. Many times tenants in rent controlled properties are unjustly denied of rental agreement rights by city government intervention.
Some sources say the recently passed Prop JJJ does not mandate affordable housing units be provided. You have to read JJJ yourself. But “affordable housing” which seems to be anything renting for over $2,000 per month and a required income of $60,000 per year ---and which seems to be what the recent propositions are supposed to address--- do not address the low income, very low income, and extremely low income renters.
I fight for fair housing for all, but especially those most in need who are making less than an “affordable income”.
Support G. Juan Johnson for District 10
Based on the Curbed LA article "Make Less Than $54,000? You may qualify for low income housing" - https://la.curbed.com/2018/5/16/17354052/affordable-housing-requirements-income-limits-los-angeles
What are allowable rent increases in rent control apartments?
This applies to rent controlled apartments only.
The city RSO bulletin is titled “Allowable Rent Increases” and is searchable on the Internet.Some rent increases are allowed after a tenant vacates, some increases are not allowed. There are about six reasons why the rent must remain the same after a vacancy. Another reason why rent must remain the same is if a tenant that vacates did not receive the required THP application or the “cash for keys” buyout form.
So this is a benefit that should accrue to the new tenant or whoever rents the unit but illegally pays an increased rent. I believe the entitlement should accrue to the unit, no matter how many tenants move in but do not receive the rent reduction. I also believe landlords who fail to follow the RSO ordinance should suffer heavy fines.
I have passionately fought the last four years to protect apartment applicants from illegal rent increases after a vacancy due to primary renovations. I have witnessed and reported to government and community groups numerous units where tenants should not have received an increased rent.
It is to a tenants benefit before moving into a rent control building to find out the reason why the previous tenant vacated the unit. City employees however are not enforcing the city rent registration ordinance and even with CPRA requests, the city refuses to assist in a diligent manner with tenants who are paying illegal rents but have little information on previous rent amounts.
If an owner performed repairs but did not issue the required THP, and the next tenant paid an illegal rent of $400 more per month for 24 months, that would total a substantial $9,600.00 at minimum.
Councilperson Herb Wesson has been part of the problem.
I am dedicated to a solution that helps all tenants receive the monies they are entitled to.
Elect G. Juan Johnson 2020 Council District 10
Vote by mail starts February 3, 2020
ANATOMY OF LA
"Now Tolentino knows what my relatives and guests experience when they cannot use the intercom to reach me."