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New Landlord Scheme: Have L.A. Tenants Pay for Water!

April 24, 2015

water-conservation-logoThe landlord group, Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA), is urging that the Mayor and LA City Council take action to have renters pay their own water bills. This would be a significant change given that for most tenants’ water costs are included in their rent.

Because it’s included in the rent, landlords claim that tenants have no incentive to conserve water, thus have little concerns about letting their faucets run and not reporting leaks. As a result, landlords say they are facing increased water bills.

However, the LA Department of Water and Power reports that the City has cut water use about 10% since early last year and is on track to comply with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s order to slash consumption by 20% by 2017.

Given that approximately 65% of LA residents are renters, these water conservation achievements could not have been obtained without significant participation of tenants throughout the City.

Nevertheless, we all have a responsibility to conserve water. This is a real crisis that requires tenants, landlords, homeowners and businesses to all do their part.

LandlordSchemingThe AAGLA plan appears to be nothing more than another landlord scheme, which clearly is an attempt to take advantage of our water drought crisis to shift financial responsibilities to tenants who can least afford to pay more.

This plan is disingenuous and opportunistic and is more about attempting an end-run around existing rent control laws and tenant protections in order to get more money from tenants.

Los Angeles has become the nation’s most unaffordable city for renters. Many renters are already paying unaffordable rents, paying upwards of 50% of their income to maintain a roof over their heads. This proposal would make our affordable housing crisis worse.

The landlords’ plan is essentially an arbitrary water allocation and billing practice referred to as Ratio Utility Billing System or “RUBS”

RUBS allows the landlord to charge for water use by some ratio like the number of residents in the unit, the number of bedrooms or perhaps by the square footage. All of these systems assume constant and equal water usage based on the arbitrary ratios. But, without sub meters for each unit, chances are that water use and SavePlanetcharges will be inaccurate, with some tenants ending up overpaying for their usage and some underpaying.

It is unclear whether tenants would be responsible for the cost of the landlord watering lawns, or operating water-inefficient washing machines, or cleaning the property common areas.

Plus, it would include the controversial use of a 3rd party bill collector, which would mean additional administrative costs to tenants above and beyond the water charges.

There have been problems where RUBS is currently being used. Some landlords have marked up the cost of water to their tenants creating a hidden rent increase in the guise of water billing.

The RUBS billing formulas bear no relationship to actual water usage.Landlord-Repairs

This system provides a substantial incentive to landlords to avoid making needed repairs. What Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) organizers have found in assisting renters is that landlords, in many cases, refuse to fix leaky toilets or faucets or repair broken pipes waste a lot of water. This proposal would increase landlords’ lack of interest in making needed repairs.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti says he only supports tenants paying for their water usage if they have their own water meters.

“I’ve been supportive of individual meters so individuals could track their own use,” Garcetti said.

LA City Council Member Mike Bonin agreed, stating, “The only way to do it is with individual meters. As a drought-fighting tool, you need to have the use tied directly to the cost.”

SavethedropShowersCES believes that first there’s a need for an education and outreach campaign to tenants – in order to increase their involvement in conservation efforts.

Also, landlords should be required to make their apartments building water efficient by converting their lawns to drought resistant plants, installing energy/water efficient washing machines, and providing their units with low-flow toilets and faucets without passing those costs on to tenants. There should be stiff fines to landlords and increased rent reductions to tenants when landlords fail to make quality repairs to leaks in a timely manner.

The installation of sub meters in buildings could be studied, ensuring that tenants would be charged only for what they use. But there would have to be a corresponding reduction in rent to accurately compensate tenants the full amount of savings to landlords.

savethedrop

Story by Larry Gross

Tenants Protest Their Evictions at Historic Hollywood Villa Carlotta Apartments

April 22, 2015

Villa Carlotta - SylvieTenants Facing Ellis Act Evictions at the historic Villa Carlotta Apartments received support for their “Hug the Carlotta” Protest from the Coalition for Economic Survival (CES), students from The Oakwood School and Community Groups and Residents on April 21, 2015.

Last Christmas, CGI Strategies, the new owners of the Villa Carlotta Apartments in Hollywood provided their tenants with presents in the form of eviction notices. Using the provisions of the state Ellis Act, which allows landlords to remove units from the rental market and evict tenants, the owners served tenants with 120-day eviction notices. The eviction notices expired on April 21, 2015.

Villa Carlotta - Protect BldgThe owners have stated that they want to convert the building into a short-term luxury hotel. Tenants, many who have been long-term renters there, have been under severe pressure to accept payouts to move earlier than the eviction date. A number of tenants have succumbed to the pressure and have moved.

The rest of the tenants have fought back, claimed that owners have no much higher rents. This would violate the provisions of the Ellis Act by re-renting the units within 5 years after falsely forcing tenants out.

The tenants have been gaining community support. They have been assisted by the tenants’ rights organization, the Coalition for Economic Survival. Recently, students of The Oakwood School‘s senior theatre class became aware of the Villa Carlotta’s plight whileVilla Carlotta - preparing a play that echoed the Carlotta’s story. Determined to help the residents keep their homes, students and tenants recently spoke before the LA City Council, asking Council Member Tom LaBonge, who represents the district Villa Carlotta is located in, to intervene on their behalf.

With their pleas to the City going unanswered, the tenants, students and community supporters stood together on the day of their eviction notice states they need to vacate and collectively hugged the building in a visual demonstration and show of solidarity to protest and stop the evictions. The Oakwood School theatre students also performed a reading from the play “Hot l Baltimore” after the action in the lobby of the Villa Carlotta.

Villa Carlotta - Hug BldgThe current candidates running for the LA City Council District 4 seat, David Ryu and Carolyn Ramsey, both made appearances at the protest.

In addition there was a representative from UNITE-HERE Local 11 (two members of the union reside at Villa Carlotta), the Hollywood United Neighborhood Council and tenants from the Rodney Drive Tenant Association who are also facing Ellis Act evictions from their Los Feliz apartments.

Villa Carlotta Apartments has had a storied past. The four story building on the northwest corner of Franklin and Tamarind was designed by Arthur E. Harvey for the estate of early filmmaker Thomas Ince. One of the Villa Carlotta - Group building’s most famous long-time tenants was gossip columnist Louella Parsons, who wrote her column from her apartment there. Other past tenants in the 50-unit building included actor Edward G. Robinson, producer David O. Selznick, actress Marion Davies, architect Wallace Neff, Neil Patrick Harris and lead vocalist Dan Reynolds of the rock group Imagine Dragons, who wrote a hit record there, and whose wife and child attended the protest.

 

Story by Larry Gross

 

CLICK HERE to VIEW MORE PICTURES OF THE VILLA CARLOTTA TENANT PROTEST

Songs Celebrating the Fight for Social Justice Filled the Air – A Review of the Concert for Social Justice

April 10, 2015

ConcertForSocialJustice_LA_013In their song “Ripple,” the Grateful Dead sang, “Let there be songs to fill the air.” On April 8 at Hollywood’s Fonda Theater, it was Social Justice songs that filled the air.

A star-studded cast contributed to making the Concert for Social Justice an outstanding event.

The David Crosby and Graham Nash opening number, “Long Time Gone,” best demonstrated the theme of the night.


“Speak out. You got to speak out against the madness.
You got to speak your mind if you dare.”

The GRAMMY Museum and the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights co-sponsored this event to benefit their “Speak Up Sing Out: Songs of Conscience” program, which is a student music competition that encourages middle and high school students to become engaged in human rights by writing a song.

Rocky Dawuni

Rocky Dawuni

The night kicked off with the high energy of international Ghana-born reggae star and humanitarian activist Rocky Dawuni who performed his self-described “Afro-roots” sound, a fusion of reggae and Afro Beat groove, exhibited in “Shine a Light,’ from his new album, “Branches Of The Same Tree.”

Rocky had been re-tweeting my previous blog article about the Concert and I was fortunate to speak with him in the Lobby of the Fonda Theater after his performance. He thanked me for my article and I thanked him for his performance. Rocky is definitely someone to watch as his career takes off.

Rocky was followed by a reading from actor Dennis Haysbert, famous for his portray of the President on TV’s “24.” Between acts, the actors on hand delivered testimonials from international human rights leaders providing stories of struggles for justice around the world.

La Santa Cecilia

La Santa Cecilia

Then came LA’s own La Santa Cecilia playing a blend of music that included cumbia, bossa nova and boleros. Lead vocalist, Marisol Hernandez (aka La Marisoul) said, “Social justice music can also be good to dance to!” They also spoke about the need for immigration reform and about how deportations have a devastating impact on families who are torn apart.

We were treated to a dynamic version of the The Beatles “Strawberry Fields” that they dedicated to farmworkers and their stuggle.

Another testimonial reading followed by actress and political activist Alfre Woodward who recently starred in “12 Years a Slave.”

Tom Morello

Tom Morello

The intensity was turned up a couple of notches with the performance of Tom Morello.

Upon seeing a velvet roped off VIP section in front of the stage, Morello in his typical rabble rousing style, challenged the crowd and the concert promoters shouting, “Are we in this together?” a number of times. He demanded that the ropes come down, and they did, thus eliminating a make-shift class system within the audience.

Morello opened with “One Man Revolution” followed by Black Spartacus Heart Attack Machine.” He then went into the Bruce Springsteen classic, “The Ghost Of Tom Joad,” singing,


“Now Tom said, “Ma, whenever ya see a cop beatin’ a guy
Wherever a hungry new born baby cries
Wherever there’s a fight against the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me Ma, I’ll be there
Wherever somebody’s strugglin’ for a place to stand
For a decent job or a helpin’ hand
Wherever somebody is strugglin’ to be free
Look in their eyes Ma, You’ll see me”

ConcertForSocialJustice_Breathe

At one point, Morello pulled his guitar up to his mouth to play with his teeth revealing a sign “I Can’t Breath” pasted on the back of his guitar, in protest of the death of Eric Garner, the 43-year-old father of six, who died as a result of a chokehold applied by a NYC police officer who heartlessly ignored his plea.

He ended his set with “The Road I Must Travel” and his familiar message to the crowd, “Take it easy, but take it!”

Chad Lowe, Billy Rae Cyrus, David Arquette & Martin Sheen

Chad Lowe, Billy Rae Cyrus, David Arquette & Martin Sheen

Then came a joint reading by Billy Rae Cyrus, Chad Lowe, David Arquette and Martin Sheen.

Earlier I had the opportunity to speak with Martin Sheen and reminded him that one of his first public political speeches was at a Coalition for Economic Survival Rent Control Rally in West Hollywood’s Plummer Park in 1980.

I also was able to speak a bit with Chad Lowe in the lobby of the Fonda.

Melissa Etheridge

Melissa Etheridge

Next up was Melissa Etheridge, who spoke as a cancer survivor about the importance of legalizing medical marijuana use. “I have come out of the closet as a gay person,” Etheridge said. “I’m also coming out of the closet as a cannabis user — surprise!”

She said, “Social justice starts with the individual. That’s how we make change.”

Her set included “Testify,” “Silent Legacy,” a cover of Brandy Clark’s “Get High” and closing with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh’s “Get Up, Stand Up.”


“Get up, stand up, stand up for your right
Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight!”

Etheridge was followed by David Crosby and Graham Nash who launched into their classic hit, “Long Time Gone,” which Crosby wrote the night Robert Kennedy was assassinated.

Graham Nash & David Crosby

Graham Nash & David Crosby

Then came Nash’s song “Chicago (We Can Change the World),” written about the “Chicago 8” trial, where protest leaders at the 1968 Democratic National Convention were charged with intent to incite a riot. The first line of the song refers to Black Panther Party Chairman Bobby Seale, the only African-American plaintiff, who was actually gagged and bound to a chair in the courtroom.


“Though your brother’s bound and gagged
And they’ve chained him to a chair
Won’t you please come to Chicago
Just to sing?
 
In a land that’s known as freedom
How can such a thing be fair?
Won’t you please come to Chicago
For the help that we can bring?
 
We can change the world
Rearrange the world
It’s dying to get better.”

They also included in their set “Military Madness,” an a cappella version of “What Are Their Names?” and “Teach Your Children” with enthusiastic audience participation.

Kerry Kennedy & Bob Santelli

Kerry Kennedy & Bob Santelli

Kerry Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy’s daughter and President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and Bob Santelli, Executive Director of The GRAMMY Museum then introduced Jade Rhodes, the winner of their “Speak Up, Sing Out” contest. A student at Los Angeles’ Brentwood School, she wrote and performed her song called “Invisible” about the plight of a Darfur war refugee.

Kennedy said that in organizing this concert the first person they thought of to ask was Jackson Browne. She said that not only did he immediately say yes, he called his friends to join him.

Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne

Browne then came out and sang “Lives in the Balance” followed by “Far From The Arms Of Hunger.”


“Far from the arms of hunger
Far from the world disorder
Beyond the reach of war
There is a world where we belong”

He concluded with “Looking East” and then Steven Van Zandt’s “I am a Patriot.”

"No social justice concert would be complete without a Woody Guthrie anthem. "

“No social justice concert would be complete without a Woody Guthrie anthem. “

With the concert’s artists returning to the stage for the encore finale, Tom Morello stated that, “No social justice concert would be complete without a Woody Guthrie anthem. Whether you’re of the Occupy Wall Street generation or the Aquarius generation … This land is your land!

Concluding this trip from the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters, Morello shouted out “The future is unwritten!” The crowd then dispersed into the Hollywood night having experienced a magnificent concert, and, more importantly, hopefully inspired to become active and involved in the ongoing fight for economic and social justice.

GroupFinale

Written by Larry Gross

The Concert for Social Justice – An Event Not to be Missed

March 23, 2015

Concert Social JusticeThroughout history, movements for social change have utilized the power of song to recount history and to inspire people in their journey toward justice. Music has been a catalyst for change, a medium for protest, and a way to deliver a message of hope. No one understood that better than the likes of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez, Bob Marley and Bruce Springsteen.

Songs have the power to move people, more than words alone. Teaching people songs – and singing them together – can move people emotionally, socially, and politically.

Bono said, “Music can change the world because it can change people.”

Jackson Browne, David Crosby & Graham Nash

Jackson Browne, David Crosby & Graham Nash

Ensuring that music will continue to play a significant role in social justice movements means that our youth, who hold the keys to the future, must be taught to understand this. Thus, the importance of the new program, “Speak Up Sing Out: Songs of Conscience,” being sponsored in partnership by The GRAMMY Museum and the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

This program, first piloted in Los Angeles schools in 2014, invites middle-school and high-school students to write songs about social justice issues and express their perspectives on issues ranging from domestic violence and housing to global warming and human trafficking, and other topics.

To advance and fund this important program Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and the GRAMMY Museum are presenting “The Concert for Social Justice” in Hollywood on April 8, 2015 at the Fonda Theater, were the winning song will be performed.

The show will highlight the power of music as a tool for social justice and will feature a collection of artists performing songs that have helped generate change over the past five decades.

The artists who have agreed to participate thus far are Jackson Browne, David Crosby & Graham Nash, Melissa Etheridge, La Santa Cecilia, Tom Morello and Rocky Dawuni. There will also be special performances from actors Dennis Haysbert, Martin Sheen, David Arquette, Chad Lowe and Alfre Woodard.

Jackson Browne & Tom Morello

Jackson Browne & Tom Morello

Singer and activist Tom Morello, who will perform at the Concert, says it’s his job as a musician “to steel the backbone of people on the front lines of social justice struggles, and to put wind in the sails of those struggles.”

Clearly, this is an event not to be missed. Get your tickets while they are available online at Fondatheatre.com or AXS.com. Purchase tickets by phone by calling AXS at (888) 929-7849. Tickets are $55.

Coalition for Economic Survival’s Response to LA Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Speech on his Housing Plan for Los Angeles

October 31, 2014

The Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) believes what was important about the LA Mayor Eric Garcetti’s speech given at the Mayoral Housing, Transportation and Jobs Summit at UCLA on October 29, 2014, was the recognition that we need to link the commitment to providing new affordable housing with raising the minimum wage.

For low wage earners providing one without the other is an inadequate formula. Without the wage increase one can’t afford the housing, and without the affordable housing a wage increase will only go to the landlord.

The other important commitment made by the Mayor was the need to preserve existing affordable housing in addition to producing new affordable Units, as well as protecting the city’s rent control law and tenant protections.

Over 13,000 rent controlled units have been lost in the City since 2001 as a result of developers using the Ellis Act to convert and demolish these units and build high-priced condominiums and apartments.

If we don’t preserve the existing affordable units then no matter how many units are built they won’t meet the need. We will never build our way out of our affordable housing crisis unless there is an equal commitment to preserve existing affordable housing.

The Mayor also committed to building 100,000 housing units by 2021. Most of these units need to be affordable units.

In a City where the majority are renters and most of those renters are currently paying unaffordable rents, CES applauds the Mayor’s stated commitment to ensuring that there is adequate affordable housing for the people of Los Angeles.

It is going to take this type of leadership, commitment and creativity to truly achieve real equity and economic justice in Los Angeles.

Governor Jerry Brown Signs Important State Affordable Housing Bill

September 29, 2014

Gov Brown SignsOn Saturday, September 27, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed an extremely important affordable housing bill into law.

Adrin Nazarian

Calif. Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian

AB 2222, authored by Assembly Member Adrian Nazarian (D-San Fernando Valley), will strengthen the state density bonus law by increasing the affordability requirement of all low and very low income units from 30 years or longer to 55 years or longer.

AB 2222 will clarifiy state law to expressly prohibit a developer from receiving a density bonus if the proposed housing development or condominium project will result in a net loss of units affordable to persons and families who are low or very low income.

Protecting Rent Control and Other Affordable Housing

Under current law, a development project that includes the demolition or conversion of rent stabilized or affordable units may qualify for a density bonus even if the new project produces fewer affordable units than previously existed on the site.

VictoryAffHsgIn other words, the law currently grants an incentive to projects that result in a net loss of affordable housing. This is inconsistent with the legislature’s declaration that “the development of a sufficient supply of housing to meet the needs of all Californians is a matter of statewide concern.”

AB 2222 will close this loophole and will ensure that density incentives are available only to projects that preserve and contribute to the affordable housing stock, thereby bringing the law back in line with its fundamental purpose.

Your Efforts Contributed to This Victory!

The Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) had been urging its members, supporters and the general public that supports affordable housing to contact the Governor and to urge him to sign this bill. This effort, together with the effort of other allied groups around the state, no doubt, contributed to convincing the Governor to do the right thing.

Thank You’s Are Deserved

We ask that you provided a thank you to Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian for providing leadership on this crucial affordable housing issue by introducing AB 2222. You can email Law bookshim by clicking here, or by calling his office at (818) 376-4246 or (916) 219-2046.

Also, let Governor Brown you appreciate that he signed AB 2222. You can email him by clicking here or calling his office at (916) 445-2821.

CES Backs Mayor Garcetti’s Choice of Rushmore Cervantes as Housing & Community Investment Department General Manager

August 19, 2014

RushmoreOn August 13, the Los Angeles City Council Housing Committee considered Mayor Eric Garcetti’s nomination for General Manager of the Housing and Community Investment Department (HCIDLA), Rushmore Cervantes.

Cervantes has been serving as the Interim General Manager for HCIDLA and previously was the executive officer at the Department. The Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) has had an extremely good working relationship with Cervantes since he’s been at HCIDLA.

At the hearing, Housing Committee Chair, LA City Council Member Gil Cedillo, asked the question: “What’s the most vexing problem for housing?”

Cervantes responded by saying: “There is not enough housing in the City of Los Angeles for all the residents of the City. Whether it is for the low income or the working middle income.” Cervantes said that all the housing being built in the downtown area may look good, but will not be accessible to middle or low-income residents.LA C H

Cervantes added: “The solution is that we need to come up with a goal. Both for housing as a whole and for affordable housing and then agree upon the 3 or 4 tools that can achieve that. That means preserving existing affordable housing. That means looking at the Rent Stabilization Ordinance and strengthening it to make it more difficult for property owners to remove it (units) from the marketplace.”

Cedillo followed up by asking: “So how do we get out of the way of developers? I hear a lot of them say that it is impossible to do business with the City.” Cervantes answered: “We need to have Housing, Planning, and Building and Safety (Departments) try to work on a process in which we can expedite, to the greatest extent that we can, the approval process for housing, while ensuring that we, obviously, protect what’s valuable to the City, relative to the environment and affordable housing.”

tenant-landlord1Probably the most interesting aspect of the hearing was in regards to the public comments. The heads of two organizations that have been long-time adversaries were demonstrating common ground and unity in support of Cervantes’ nomination.

The two people testifying that day were Coalition for Economic Survival Executive Director Larry Gross, representing renters, and Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles Executive Director Jim Clark, representing landlords.

In his testimony CES’ Gross praised Mayor Garcetti for providing an extremely qualified choice for General Manager stating: “With this City facing a severe housing crisis, particularly when it comes to the lack of affordable housing, you need a special person to lead us. Thus, this position requires someone with a very unique skill-set who is committed to and has the ability to effectively take on these challenges. I believe Rushmore Cervantes is that person and, I know he is up to these incredible challenges. Rushmore is well-respected and has the trust of the key stakeholders that are working to address our housing needs.”CFSHCIDimage

On August 19, the full LA City Council unanimously, on a 14 to 0  vote, confirmed Rushmore Cervantes as the new permanent HCIDLA General Manager.

 

Listen to CES Executive Director Larry Gross Testify in Support of Rushmore Cervantes’ Nomination

Kick Off Event to Announce Los Angeles’ Selection as One of 100 Resilient Cities

July 8, 2014

rockefeller_resilient_challengeIn December 2013, The Rockefeller Foundation announced the selection of the City of Los Angeles to participate in the Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge. The 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge seeks to support 100 cities that are ready to build resilience to the social, economic, and physical challenges that cities are increasingly facing in the 21st century.

Garcetti100Cities

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti

On June 30, 2014, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti invited community stakeholders, City officials, service providers, businesses, and the non-profit sector to a kick off event workshops to discuss Los Angeles’ resilience priorities and begin to develop a shared resilience agenda. CES was one of the invited guests.

Los Angeles was selected to join the first cohort of 100 Resilient Cities from more than 400 applicants around the globe to develop ways to minimize damage and recover economically from disasters.

As a member of 100 Resilient Cities, Los Angeles has a distinct and important opportunity to strengthen its commitment to resilience via:disaster-plan-recovery-resilience

1. Funding to hire a Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) who will lead the development and implementation of the City’s resilience strategy; 2. Technical support in the development of the City’s resilience strategy; 3. Membership in the global 100 Resilient Cities network, and 4. Access to a platform of resilience-building tools.

Mayor Garcetti emphasized that though earthquakes top the list of risks in L.A., keeping the city functional in the long run goes beyond getting ready for the “Big One.” Problems such as an unprotected water system can pose huge risks if a gas line ruptures and fires break out in the aftermath of an earthquake, he said.

“I’m making sure that Los Angeles, threatened by 13 of the 16 federally designated natural disasters, gets serious about resilience and sustainability,” Garcetti said. “When disaster strikes, we must be prepared now to keep our water, communications and other key infrastructure operational.”

Dr. Lucy Jones

Dr. Lucy Jones

Dr. Lucy Jones, of the US Geological Services and recently appointed by the Mayor as LA’s Senior Adviser on Seismic Safety, was a speaker. She said that the San Andreas Fault has a major earthquake every 150 years. She pointed out that the last major earthquake on that fault occurred 300 years ago. Dr. Jones warned that a major San Andreas quake would cut off all 3 water aqueducts providing water to Los Angeles, cut off the food supply routes to LA and result in major fires throughout the region.

In the break-out sessions, Coalition for Economic Survival Executive Director Larry Gross, noted that while supporting the need to make buildings safe, the burden of paying for the cost of building earthquake retrofitting must not be placed on renters who can least afford to pay increased rents. Potentially 29,000 soft-story rock_citiesapartment buildings that are mostly rent-controlled housing for low and moderate income and working class families could lose their affordability if they are required to be retrofitted.

Gross also pointed out that given LA’s diverse population, it was imperative that information and access to it be provided in the numerous languages spoken in LA.

 

Mayor Eric Garcetti Nominates CES Executive Director Larry Gross to the LA Board of Animal Services Commission

January 22, 2014

On January 21, 2014, the Los Angeles City Council’s Personnel and Animal Welfare laaslogoCommittee, consisting of Council Members Paul Koretz (Chair), Mitch O’Farrell and Felipe Fuentes, unanimously approved the confirmation of Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) Executive Director Larry Gross to the City of LA Board of Animal Services Commission and sent the nomination to the full City Council for final confirmation.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the Commission nominations of Gross along with Jennifer Brent executive director at the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation, an animal-welfare group started by actress Katherine Heigl and Roger Wolfson, a television writer and former aide/speechwriter to several US Senators on January 6. They would join Attorney David Zaft and LA Manager of the Humane Society’s Pets for Life Alana Yañez on the Commission. The Board of Animal Services Commissioners oversees and sets policy for the LA Department of Animal Services, which administers the city’s animal shelter system, permits and animal control with a $21.7 million annual budget.

Gross, in addressing the Council committee stated the need to fulfill the pledge for Los Angeles to become a “No-Kill” city by ensuring that dogs and cats, both adopted and Adopt22848homeless, are spayed and neutered, as well as the need to make it easier for people to adopt and care for their dogs and cats.

“This being a City of renters, with 62% of our residents’ tenants, we must facilitate the adoptions in rental units. That means seeking cooperation and understanding between tenants and landlords.”

In testimony supporting Gross’ appointment, James Johnson, Chief Political Coordinator for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 721, which represents the workers at the animal shelters, said “We find it beautifully ironic that one of our city’s most diligent advocates for the poor would also step up and to take up a position on the Animal Services Commission to protect those that can’t speak for themselves. I think it’s beautiful.”

Johnson further stated, “He (Gross) is somebody that, not only I, but many of our members and the leadership of our organization respect highly and we look forward to working with him and the other commissioners.”

Gross stressed  that, “The task is huge, given the number of homeless, stray and feral cats and team-collaboration-business-results-performancedogs. Our chance of success lies in a collaborative partnership that’s inclusive of all the stakeholders. This means the Department of Animal Services must work together with Council Offices, other city departments, animal rescue and rights organizations, shelter staff and their unions (SEIU, AFSCME & the Laborers Union), shelter volunteers, and, clearly, tenants, landlords, and homeowners.”

The full City Council is scheduled to give final approval of the appointments on February 11, 2014.

LISTEN TO THE CITY COUNCIL COMMITTEE CONFIRMATION HEARING:

Gov Jerry Brown Delivers a Blow to Affordable Housing Efforts That Will Leave Low Income Renters Out in the Cold

October 24, 2013

Gov-Brown-Signing-BillOn October 13, 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed AB 1229 (Atkins) stunning tenants’ rights and affordable housing advocates across the state.

With the power of his pen the Governor essentially undermined the hard work of activists to get this key affordable housing bill passed by the state legislature and, thus, jeopardized the ability of local governments to provided affordable housing through inclusionary housing laws.

Inclusionary zoning is a land use practice through which local governments promote affordable housing. These policies have been in use for over 40 years, but were challenged in the case of Palmer/Sixth Street Properties L.P. v. City of Los Angeles.

Affordable Housing Web BannerIn Palmer, the court held that the provision of the state Costa-Hawkins Act, which gives developers, and not government, the right to establish initial rental rates applies to privately financed rental housing projects and voids many inclusionary housing policies.

The California Association of Realtors and landlord groups sponsored the Costa-Hawkins law in 1995. It prohibits new construction of rental units from being subject to local rent control ordinances and really doesn’t have anything to do with inclusionary housing laws.

vetoSince the 1970s, nearly 170 jurisdictions in California have chosen to use inclusionary or mixed-income ordinances to produce 80,000 affordable units at no cost to taxpayers.

By introducing AB 1229, which would have allowed locally elected officials to decide whether to require, as a condition of approval, new market-rate rental housing developments in their communities to include a small percentage of units with rents affordable to low- and moderate-income tenants or pay an in lieu fee, Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) hoped the bill would have superseded the 2009 California Appellant court Palmer ruling that cities requiring developers to include housing priced below market rates were in violation of the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.

A broad coalition of tenant groups, affordable housing advocates and non-profit community housing developers, supported the bill, as did most major newspapers around the state. As could be expected, big developers, mega-landlords and realtors went all out to fight the bill and leaned heavily on Governor Brown to veto it.

Send a Message to Governor Jerry Brown

deliver_messageThe Governor has dashed the hopes of many low-income California to obtain safe and affordable housing for their families. People should be outraged.

People can express their outrage by letting Governor Brown know how disappointed you are by his veto of this extremely important housing bill.

The statewide renters organization, Tenants’ Together, has provided an easy way to let the Governor know how you feel about his action. Just click here to send him a message.

The Coalition for Economic Survival is member of Tenants’ Together and CES Executive Director Larry Gross sits on its Board of Directors.

CES on the Radio: Case of the Heartless Landlord Evicting a 73 Year Old Woman in Order to Jack Up the Rent

August 7, 2013

Eviction-in-CaliforniaThe David Cruz Show on KTLK radio recently received an email from a young lady about how her 73-year-old mother was being evicted from her apartment, because of a $23 bill.

When the lady finally spoke to management, they gave her 3 days to send in the payment, and she promptly mailed a money order for the amount that was due.

Management later informed her that they received the money order a day late, and would begin eviction proceedings.Image

The owner has reportedly admitted that he is driven by a desire to get more money for the apartment, since the woman has lived there for 40 years, and only has to pay $259 a month.

David Cruz spoke with Larry Gross, Executive Director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, about the woman’s rights as a tenant in a rent-controlled area.

June 18th Public Hearing Regarding LifeLine Reduced Rates for California Low-Income Mobile Phone Customers

May 28, 2013

PhoneLifePreserverThe California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is holding a hearing on June 18th in Los Angeles to gather public input regarding whether there should be low cost LifeLine rates for wireless service for low income customers. Other hearings have been going on throughout the state since May 14th and will continue until August 13th.

The program will supplement existing Federal LifeLine programs, which provide phone services to low income individuals. But, there have been many barriers for very low-income people to access the discounted service. For instance, cell phone providers do not recognize Single Resident Occupancy (SRO) hotels as permanent residences. As a result, phone companies are denying Lifeline rates to SRO residents who are some of the most in need of affordable phone service. Others have had difficulty receiving their cell-phones because many different providers and third parties must rubber-stamp their application.

Sr&Youth on PhoneEven when consumers finally receive their cellphones, they report having little or no service in their rooms and have had to go outside to use their cell phones. Although Federal wireless LifeLine service providers have often advertised their service as free, customers have been particularly unsatisfied by the amount of monthly minutes.

The issue of allowable minutes and the cost of the plan are the crucial issues to ensure a meaningful cell phone LifeLine program for California’s low-income residents.

It is crucial that people attend this hearing to urge the CPUC to keep all cusLifeLinetomers connected by updating California’s LifeLine program to include mobile phones. The CPUC should adopt an effective LifeLine program that holds phone companies accountable for the subsidies they receive, and provides eligible consumers with phone service that will last all month, include unlimited texting and direct 911 access and provide family plans

LifeLine can help the homeless find homes, the jobless find jobs, the ill find medical care, the elderly get help in emergencies, parents stay in touch with children sand families to stay connected.

 

H E A R I N G   I N F O R M A T I O N

 

CPUC Hearing Location - CalTrans HQ

CPUC Hearing Location – CalTrans HQ

California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Hearings on Establishing a LifeLine Rate Program for Mobile Phone Service

TUESDAY, JUNE 18

4 pm to 7 pm

Caltrans District 7 Headquarters

100 South Main Street

(at 1st Street Across from LA City Hall)

Downtown Los Angeles

CES and LAFLA Join Together to Win Major Tenants’ Rights Legal Victory Against Sexual Harassment & Discrimination of Tenants Perpetrated by Building Managers

May 10, 2013

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) attorneys assisted low-income tenants in successfully fighting back against sexual harassment and discrimination perpetrated by building managers, securing a settlement late in March which delivers monetary compensation for the plaintiffs while ensuring protections for future tenants at the Lafayette Hotel, a rent-controlled residential building offering low rents in the Rampart area of Los Angeles. For nearly two years, senior attorney Fernando Gaytan (photo left), along with co-counsel Christopher Brancart, litigated a hard fought battle to end the harassment of female tenants at the Lafayette.

“Reports of landlords demanding ’sex for rent’ may seem shocking and uncommon to most people,” stated Gaytan, “but for poor and low income tenants, encounters with predatory landlords who take advantage of the economic and social barriers these tenants face is tragically much more common than reported.”

LAFLA’s housing unit launched an extensive investigation after several women from the building stepped forward and described the same pattern of repeated sexual harassment at the hands of management, employees and the owner of the residential hotel.  Accounts of harassment included repeated taunting, groping, and quid pro quo in which the women were told their rent would be waived if they acquiesced to demands for sexual favors.

In response to the investigation, several former and current residents stepped forward as witnesses and described similar experiences. For the plaintiffs and several of the witnesses, the Lafayette was their first home after being emancipated from the foster care system or after a period of homelessness.

“Cases involving sexual harassment of tenants highlight how a severe lack of resources can leave tenants vulnerable to multiple forms of abuse by an unscrupulous landlord,” continued Gaytan. “Many low income tenants, especially those who recently left homelessness,  are often prime targets of this type of unlawful conduct by landlords, managers and those with power to decide the fate of their homes.”

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of three women and the tenants’ rights group Coalition for Economic Survival, included claims based on violations of federal and state fair housing laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender. The parties reached a settlement just before a jury trial was to commence. As result, the court has entered a consent decree order which calls for monetary compensation, prevents one set of defendants from ever having any involvement with the Lafayette Hotel and requires owner Balubahai Patel to meet certain training and reporting requirements designed to enforce fair housing obligations.

Mr. Patel, who owns scores of residential properties throughout California, will be required to undergo sexual harassment training and obtain certification in fair housing obligations. He will also be required to demand such training of his employees involved in the operation of each residential property and institute a new written anti-harassment policy at his properties. Tenants of Mr. Patel’s properties must be given a copy of HUD-issued know-your-rights fliers concerning harassment and management must exhibit an informational poster on laws against harassment. Mr. Patel, whose business plan includes leasing his residential buildings to individuals who then act as landlord to the residents, must now also include in future leases a requirement that operators and their employees undergo fair housing training.

The court will retain jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the consent decree and defendants will be required to submit certificates of compliance to the court, a key provision, according to Gaytan. “The consent decree entered in this case is a tremendous benefit to the tenants of this building and will have a much broader impact. At each of the over thirty properties owned by the defendant, managers will be asked to provide tenants with informational fliers concerning sexual harassment and fair housing laws and will be required to complete sexual harassment training.  This requirement imposed on the owner of multiple properties statewide will cause much needed ’know your rights’ information to reach hundreds of tenants who would otherwise remain isolated.”

Reprinted from “LAFLA Matters,” the newsletter of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles

Anti-Rent Control, Anti-Tenants’ Rights Forces Line Up Behind Wendy Greuel’s Bid for Los Angeles Mayor

April 18, 2013

GreuelIt was nearly two month ago that the Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) expressed great concern over LA City Controller and Mayoral Candidate Wendy Greuel’s enthusiastic announcement about receiving the endorsement of the landlord group, Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA).

Those concerns has been increased with the announced on Monday that the Central City Association (CCA) has endorsed Wendy Greuel’s bid for Mayor.

Demonstration Outside CCA Office Protesting Its Pro-Gentrification Stance

Demonstration Outside CCA Office Protesting Its Pro-Gentrification Stance

The CCA is a business advocacy group that lobbies city and state government to grease the wheels for development in downtown. Besides landlords and developers, it also represents large corporations, such as Chevron, Walmart, Verizon, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo and Bank of America.

The Central City Association has been a consistent opponent of tenants’ rights, rent control and restricting condo conversions that displaces tenants.

Some examples of CCA’s efforts include opposing a temporary rent freeze introduced by LA City Council Member Richard Alarcon that would have given the City Council time to debate potential amendments to the rent control ordinance without saddling LA tenants with more unjust rent increases.

CCA opposed LA City Council Member and Mayoral Candidate Eric Garcetti’s amendment to a local provision of the Ellis Act  (state law prohibiting local jurisdictions from preventing landlords from going out of the rent business), which would require developers the choice of constructing a new, rent stabilized building (where rent control would extend to every new unit, regardless of size of demolished building), or replacing the lost rent stabilized units one for one with units that would be affordable to those making 80% of AMI or less, up to 20% of the total building units. It was a provision that CES strongly supported and was passed.chihouse3

CCA opposed a moratorium on condo conversions and demolitions in Los Angeles. From 2001 to 2007 nearly 15,000 LA rent control units were lost due to condo conversions and demolitions to build new condos. City Council District 2, represented by Wendy Greuel at the time, had the third largest number of rent controlled units lost in the City.

“A moratorium sends absolutely the wrong message at absolutely the wrong time, because the condo market is slowing down significantly,” said Carol Schatz, who heads the CentralCity Association. “And while there may be some projects still in the pipeline, there aren’t that many. It scares investors anytime you talk about a moratorium, and let’s not forget that housing drives the L.A. economy.

Stop Robbing HoodCES Executive Director Larry Gross responded, “In other words, CCA was essentially saying when the condo market is hot, it is unfair to destroy pending investments by enacting a moratorium. When the market cools, it is unfair because it will deter the formation of new speculator groups seeking to profit by evicting tenants and eliminating rent-controlled housing.”

Gross observed that, “It appears that Greuel has been able to coalesce the forces that have been at the forefront of the fight to destroy rent control and undermine tenants’ rights behind her mayoral candidacy.”

Besides AAGLA and CCA, the Beverly Hills/Greater Los Angeles Association of Realtors Local PAC, the Los Angeles County Federation of Business (Biz Fed), the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce’s Jobs PAC, and the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA) PAC are all supporting Greuel.

All these endorsements are based on the belief that Greuel will support them on issues of concern to them,” Condos Destroysaid Gross. “They clearly believe that Wendy Greuel would be a better Mayor for landlords and developers. This is a very important factor that tenants must keep in mind when they cast their ballots for Mayor on May 21, Election Day.”

In addition, homeless advocacy groups, such as LACAN, have been actively opposing the CCA’s “Downtown 2020” plan, which they state calls for no affordable housing to be built in Downtown, and increased police and criminalization efforts against homeless and poor residents.

CCA was also a key opponent to labor unions and supporters efforts to extend the City’s living wage ordinance to hotels near LAX.

Federal Judge Rules Against Lawsuit to Stop L.A County Court Closures. But, Battle Will Continue…

March 20, 2013

Late on March 18th, a Federal court judge ruled that the Federal Courts had no right to intercede in State court Lawsuitmatters (“abstention” doctrine). Thus, the lawsuit filed on behalf of the Coalition for Economic Survival, People Organized for Westside Renewal, Union de Vecinos, the Independent Living Center of Southern California and several impacted individuals to stop the closure and consolidation of Los Angeles County Superior was thrown out.

The judge ruled purely on the issue of abstention. He felt strongly that this was an issue that should go to either State court or the Federal Court of Appeals. But, he did not rule on the merits of our case. As a result, there is strong determination by the attorneys and plaintiffs to continue on.

Our attorneys at the Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Courts ClosedAngeles, the Western Center on Law and Poverty and the Disability Rights Legal Center are weighing the next step to take. But, there will, most certainly, be a next step!

The courts cannot be allowed to move forward with this court closure and consolidation policy. The impact would be devastating to poor people and people living with disabilities.

As reported in an earlier post (click here to read), we believe this action will also result in a significant increase in unjust and illegal evictions. The courts must not be allowed to slam the door of justice in the face of the people we all serve.

Lawsuit Filed to Stop L.A. County Court Closures That Will Likely Lead to More Unjust and Illegal Evictions

March 15, 2013

courtroomdoorsLos Angeles Superior Court’s closure of 21 of its 26 courtrooms for eviction hearings illegally “shuts the courthouse doors on many of the county’s most vulnerable residents” community organizers claim in a federal lawsuit, which CES is a plaintiff in.

The 26 courts where unlawful detainer cases were filed are being reduced to five courts in the downtown Stanley Mosk Courthouse, or in Pasadena, Long Beach, Santa Monica, or Antelope Valley.

Scales CutIn response, the Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, and the Disability Rights Legal Center are suing the Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of the Coalition for Economic Survival, People Organized for Westside Renewal, Union de Vecinos, the Independent Living Center of Southern California and several impacted individuals.

The lawsuit claims the state’s response to its judicial funding crisis violated the Fair Housing Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the First and 14th Amendments.

Facing a $56 million to $85 million budget shortfall for the fiscal year, the closings will include 10 regional courthouses.

There are 70,000 unlawful detainers – eviction cases – and 60,000 small claims that go through the Superior Court each year.court protest

Unlawful detainers are filed when a tenant refuses to leave an apartment or leased property after receiving an eviction notice.

The complaint states: “The Court’s plan delivers a devastating blow to individuals with disabilities and violates its obligation to make courts accessible to people with disabilities. Yet, as the Court has acknowledged, it did not even consider the impact of its plan on tenants with disabilities.”

It also states, “The Court’s actions will force thousands of low-income Black, Latino and Asian tenants and tenants with disabilities to spend five hours or more traveling to distant courthouses and back, simply to have their day in court.”

News Conf CourtsAt a March 14th news conference on the steps of the Los Angeles Federal Courthouse, where the lawsuit was filed, CES Executive Director Larry Gross stated, “Unfortunately, the unbalanced scales of justice are being further weighted against low income and working people with this outrageous plan of court house closures and consolidation.”

Joined by other organization plaintiffs and legal service organization attorneys, Gross further said that landlord will have greater incentives to now evict tenants even if there is no basis or legal justification, because chances become high that many of these tenants won’t respond to the eviction notice or will not show up for the hearing, because they have no way to get to court, thus will default and lose there eviction case.Keep-Courts-Open-Rally---Ciara-Tymony-and-Qiana-Bray---Metropolitan_595px

Following the news conference, several blocks away in front of the downtown Stanley Mosk LA County Superior Courthouse, hundreds of others packed the street to protest the court closures. The demonstration was organized by the Service Employees International Union, the ACLU/Southern California and others.

Coalition for Economic Survival Concerned Over Landlord Group Endorsement of Wendy Greuel for LA Mayor

February 20, 2013

GreuelThe Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) expressed great concern over LA City Controller and Mayoral Candidate Wendy Greuel’s enthusiastic announcement today about receiving the endorsement of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA).

The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles is one of the key landlord organizations that CES has battled over the years on rent control and tenants’ rights issues.

“AAGLA endorsements are based on the candidates they believe would be more supportive of landlord issues and will vote on bills of concern to them,” said Larry Gross, Executive Director of CES. “They clearly believe that Tenant VoterWendy Greuel is a better candidate for landlords than her opponents. This is a very important factor that tenants should keep in mind when they cast their ballots on Election Day in the Los Angeles Mayoral race.”

Greuel’s news release announcing the AAGLA endorsement states, “I really appreciate this endorsement from the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles. This endorsement is a reflection of the dynamic alliance of support that my campaign has built across Los Angeles. As Mayor, I plan on working with them to ensure that residents throughout our City have an abundance of affordable housing options and that every Angeleno has a place they can call home.”

“To say AAGLA creates affordable housing is a real misuse of the term,” said Gross. “AAGLA has never provided affordable housing for low-income renters unless forced to do so by inclusionary housing laws. In fact, their Vote Housingefforts to oppose rent control and support the weakening of tenants’ rights are positions that lead to less affordable housing which diminishes the ability of Angelenos, particularly low income and working families, from securing a place they can call home.”

Landlord/DeveloperSupport To Greuel

Landlord/Developer
Support To Greuel

In addition to today’s endorsement, Greuel has a myriad of key business endorsements, including: the Beverly Hills/Greater Los Angeles Association of Realtors Local PAC, the Los Angeles County Federation of Business (Biz Fed), the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce’s Jobs PAC, and the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA) PAC.

“These are all groups that have been at the forefront of the fight to destroy rent control and undermine tenants’ rights. Based on this, we have to warn renters that Wendy Greuel does not appear to be a friend of tenants and we urge that they strongly consider this when they cast their ballot on March 5,” Gross stated.

CES has been attempting to get all LA Mayoral and City Council Candidates to tell voters specifically what they would do, if elected, to protect rent control, prevent tenant displacement and preserve existing affordable housing. It appears, with the AAGLA endorsement, that CES got an answer from Wendy Greuel.

 

 

LA City Council District 13 Debate Has Only One Candidate Committing to Protect Rent Controlled Affordable Housing

January 25, 2013

Hollywood SignThe Coalition for Economic Survival (CES), one of Los Angeles’ leading tenants’ rights organization, has been highly critical of the field of candidates running for Mayor and City Council in the March 5, 2013 elections. CES’ bone of contention with the candidates is based on their failure to clearly state what they would do, if elected, to ensure tenants’ rights, protect the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance and preserve rent controlled and government assisted affordable housing from being demolished and converted to luxury housing.

The Crowd at the Debate

The Crowd at the Debate.

It was with these concerns that we headed out to a debate between candidates running for the 13th LA City Council District on January 24, sponsored by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the Hollywood Chamber Political Action Committee. Given the sponsor, one would rightly think that issues affecting renters and working people would not be a priority for discussion at such a pro-business forum.

It was exactly why we were interested in attending. You get a better picture of who a candidate is by what he or she promises the group they are speaking to and seeking support from.

Sadly, the panel of candidates at the packed Taglyan Cultural Complex on Vine Street in the heart of Hollywood did not include women. Well, except for former 13th District Council Member and Assembly Member Jackie Goldberg, but she was there to moderate the debate.

Debate Panel

L to R: Matt Szabo, Josh Post, Mitch O’Farrell, Emile Mack, Alex De Ocampo, John Choi and Moderator Jackie Goldberg

The six candidates participating were John Choi, a former staff member of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Alex De Ocampo, Senior Director of Saban Family Foundation, Emile Mack, LAFD Assistant Fire Chief, Mitch O’Farrell, Former District Field Director to Councilman Eric Garcetti, Josh Post, State Deputy Attorney General, and Matt Szabo, Former Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Villaraigosa.

Many candidates appeared to be pandering to the pro-business crowd with commitments to ensure public safety, fund the fire and police departments, provide tax credits to the movie industry, provide tax breaks to small businesses, doing away with the city’s gross receipt tax and curbing the “aggressiveness” of Superman, Darth Vader, Wonder Woman and the other costumed characters on Hollywood Bl. with many of the candidates stating that their behavior threatens tourism.

The candidates were non-distinguishable for most of the discussion. But, then the questioHollywood-trans-small-jpgn was raised if they supported the Hollywood Community Plan recently approved by the City Council.

The Hollywood Community Plan is controversial for providing the green light for more, and denser, development. Developers and the business community fully support it. Many residents are livid over proposed zoning changes that could make it easier to erect skyscrapers. Mayor Villaraigosa has called it “elegant density.”

Each of the candidates uniformity expressed support for the Hollywood Plan, but one candidate added something that we were hoping to hear.

Matt Szabo stated, “I support density around transit. I think that’s the way of the future. I think we have enough cars on the road. However I am not going to do it at the expense of low income communities, immigrants and seniors that have housing here today. I’m going to be very careful not to lose rent controlled units, affordable units. In fact, I want to use the Community Plan to the greatest extent possible, to preserve and extend affordable housing to the immigrants and seniors and low income communities we have here in Hollywood.”

The only other candidate to mention housing was John Choi, but he only spoke about the need to produce more diverse housing that included workforce, senior and affordable housing. He, disappointingly, did not mention the need to preserve existing affordable housing.

Tenant VoterThere were some differences between candidates regarding support of the proposed city sales tax increase, also on the March 5 ballot. CES is strongly opposed to this measure as it is a regressive tax that unfairly and disproportionately impacts low income and working people. The sales tax proposal came about after heavy lobbying from the real estate industry which resulted in the city abandoning an original proposal that would have increased the tax on real estate sales and substituted it with the half-cent sales tax hike plan.

All the candidates stated their opposition to the sales tax increase, with Szabo and Mitch O’Farrell calling it a regressive tax that hits the lowest income residents the hardest, with the exception of John Choi. Choi said he supported the sales tax increase as a way to save jobs.

CES encourages voters to urge these candidates to address tenants’ rights and affordable housing issues. After all, the City of Los Angeles is a city of renters — more than 60% of its residents are tenants. One would hope that these candidates will tell voters where they stand on issues which directly affect the majority of Angelinos.

For voters of the 13th Council District this chance is coming up next week. Next Tuesday, January 29th, at 6:30 PM, LA Voice PICO, a CES ally, is hosting a City Council District 13 Candidate Forum at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, 6657 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028. Affordable housing is a primary issue they will address.

GRINCHES, ALL OF ’EM – Los Angeles Wave Newspaper

January 9, 2013

Reprinted from Soulvine Column in the Los Angeles Wave Newspaper

Wave-Publications-Largest-Mixer-300x122

Thursday, January 3, 2013

By Betty Pleasant, Contributing Editor

 

 

 

 

GRINCHES, ALL OF ’EM — The Coalition for Economic Survival and Larry Gross rode to the rescue of the Cirque du Soleil performers during the holidays when the performers learned Iristhat they were losing their jobs, as well as their homes, for the new year. It was unexpectedly announced Dec. 18 that the Cirque du Soleil’s show “Iris” would not run in Los Angeles indefinitely, but would close on Jan. 19. The performers — many of whom were from Russia, Slovakia, Canada, Sweden and other U.S. states — had signed long-term rental leases with landlords, but in addition to facing relocation as a result of the show’s closing, the artists had to deal with landlords who would not let them out of their leases and were demanding thousands of dollars from the dancers, acrobats, contortionists and others in the show. A Cirque du Soleil management official contacted CES for assistance for his soon-to-be-jobless and displaced performers, and CES brought along Bet Tzedek Legal Services, which handled the matter.

Coalition for Economic Survival Closes Out 2012 With Major Tenants’ Rights Victories

December 31, 2012

In the closing weeks of 2012, tenants in the City of Los Angeles were provided some holiday presents with two separate unanimous votes by the LA City Council to adopt laws protecting renters.

The Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) was the main advocate in securing these important laws.

Council Member Eric Garcetti, author of the Foreclosure Eviction Ordinance, states the case of why this crucial law needs to be extended another year.

First, On December 11, 2012, the Los Angeles City Council voted to extend the City’s Foreclosure Eviction Ordinance, proposed by LA City Council Member Eric Garcetti, to protect tenants living in rental properties not subject to the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) from eviction on the grounds of foreclosure for another year. This Ordinance prohibits lenders from evicting any tenants in the City merely because of foreclosure on their landlords. Tenants living in rent controlled units have had these protections.

Days after the L.A. City Council then voted on December 14, 2012 in support of an ordinance introduced by Councilmember Paul Krekorian, in response to CES’ urging, to prohibit landlords from demanding that their tenants pay their rent only online.

Victory Secured as Vote Tally Board in Background Posts Unanimous LA City Council Vote in Support of City Council Member Paul Krekorian’s Ordinance to Prohibit Rent Payment Only Online Demands by Landlords (L to R: Bet Tzedek Legal Services Attorney Patricia Van Dyke, LA City Council Member Paul Krekorian, CES Executive Director Larry Gross & Woodlake Manor Apartments Tenants Association & CES Tenant Leader Dedon Kamathi – photo by Betsy Annas, CLA Office)

The ordinance mirrors a state law (SB 1055) authored by California State Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) that goes into effect on January 1, 2013, which provides protections to all California tenants. The LA ordinance will enable the Los Angeles Housing Department to enforce the law locally.

These two laws iced a successful years for CES in its fight for economic justice. In addition, in 2012 CES worked to win, achieve and/or provide:

Cutting City of LA Parking Fine Fee Increases in Half

Lead Paint Safe Work Practices Protection for California Low Income Utility Rate Payers Receiving Energy Efficient Upgrades from Contractor Under State Mandated Utility Programs

• Safer and Healthier Rental Units

• Needed Repairs for Tenants

Legal Advice to Tenants in Dispute With Their LandlordsEconomic Justice

Support for Labor Unions Fighting on Behalf of Workers to Secure Fair Wages & Working Conditions, Such as Walmart Workers

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