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Tenants vs. Developers…Again

People have asked why we focus so much attention on the Lincoln Place Apartments. What’s the big deal? This of course comes mostly from landlords who find tenants can get in their way of making profits. I know how they feel; I am also a landlord and wish I could produce unfettered profits by raising rents as I wish. I was also a tenant and appreciated rent control (City of LA style).

Individual property rights vs. societal goals are one of the most important issues we continually face. Lincoln Place is a major battleground and focal point for this issue on the Westside. Hundreds of people have been, and are being, evicted from one of the most successful affordable housing projects in Southern California so an out of town real estate developer can make oodles of money. Well good for them – I am all for making money – but not so good for the tenants, and the local community’s desire for the property.

So the struggle continues as the big corporation pushes plans for expanding density and residents look to amend the Ellis Act to protect their housing. The big mistake made early on was not having the City of Los Angeles acquire Lincoln Place and keep it in their housing stock. It was a no-brainer, but the political muscle and will was not present. Why should we build new facilities for affordable housing, as Mayor Villaraigosa recommends, when we can buy existing stock and keep residents in place? Santa Monica should do the same IF the goal is to have a community that is affordable for those that are not of the super wealthy class.

That is the issue in Venice at Lincoln Place. Will Venice turn into a rich enclave and push out people of less wealth so developers can make money? Certainly some of that will occur, and not all of it will be bad. In fact, there are lots of small developers that can spruce up the community without annihilating it. Lincoln Place is another story, one that is not unfolding well for the residents who are in the process of being evicted. I was most offended when they uprooted 50-year-old giant Birds of Paradise and hibiscus landscaping in an obvious move to get tenants to move out. Now I am offended that they are doing the same thing with people.

The Governor’s Race

California State Controller Steve Westly and State Treasurer Phil Angelides are each campaigning to be the Democratic candidate for Governor. Westly has money; Angelides has more charisma and institutional support. Neither has the dynamism of Governor Schwarzenegger and, despite the polls, I am doubtful either can defeat him in a general election.

I thought Schwarzenegger’s political acumen to be nothing short of brilliant when his propositions were soundly defeated and he came out ebullient saying the “people have spoken.” Like Toranaga in the book Shogun, he refused to admit defeat and pressed his next agenda forward, a high-sounding infrastructure plan for California. This man will be tough to beat. And, he made a Democrat his Chief of Staff (thank you, Maria).

Schwarzenegger’s image improvement commercials are masterfully crafted and actually uplifting as he discusses the positive changes since he became governor, taking credit for all of it. He is beginning to get his political groove together. Now, if he would only amend three strikes, eliminate the death penalty, provide more incentives for alternative energy, support plans for cleaning up our environment, get a high speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles and Sacramento, improve state park funding, provide state funds for homeless housing, expand early childhood education, ensure that all Californians have outstanding health care, lower classroom sizes, pay teachers more, buy more open space, demand energy efficiency in all new construction and…well, maybe he is not the man for the job. The voters will decide in November.

Michael Rosenthal

Publisher

in Uncategorized
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