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Blog: Weho Landlords Vs. Tenants and Rehabbing Old Apartments

Going door-to-door in Weho has opened my eyes to how bad of shape our housing stock is in. This is my innovative idea to try to solve this huge problem.

As I go door to door and talk to voters one of the main problems I see is the condition of the older apartment buildings. These are often the ones that don't have elevators.

I wonder how much longer these building will last? In the current situation our housing stock is literally rotting. Will it take a big earthquake to get these buildings their much needed repair or demolition? Will they still be around in 10 years? 20? 50? 100?

But, some of the older ones are in good condition. Well lit. New paint. Good smelling. I commend the managers and owners of those buildings.

I propose a solution to this situation that could be a win-win for all parties involved.

It is an idea that came to me right after I walked into an absolutely disgusting smell that made me shudder in one of these building.

I'd be very interested to hear your feedback on this and tell me if you think it has a chance to solve this problem.

Let's take the most innovative and successful way of funding projects, crowd sourcing, and apply it towards this problem with the City of West Hollywood acting as the organizer and partial contributor towards each project that cleans up and rehabs these blighted buildings.

This could create a situation where the worst apartments get fixed up by people who care in the community. The landowner might want to contribute, the community could contribute, and the renter should as well.

A renter, or landlord, or both, would place pictures of the disgust and post them on a website. It could also be done in person at City Hall. The program and web page would be approved by the City of West Hollywood, and would act very similar to Kickstarter.

I see the debate would be what level contribution the City would pitch in towards the projects (5%, 15%, 25% + ?).

Remember the funding only kicks in if the project meets the funding goal by the deadline. This could even be a feel good reality show on Weho TV.

The renters are motivated to get off the couch, or at least pick up the phone, or move their fingers on a keyboard to get contributions to get their place rehabbed.

In another way it could lead to motivated landowners not wanting to be put on the site.

This is just one idea on how to solve a very big crisis, the deterioration of Weho housing stock. 

This is the type of innovative thinking you will get if I am elected, but I need your vote on March 5th to make it happen.

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Property Manager February 24, 2013 at 06:21 PM
I manage a rent-controlled building in WeHo and the issue, Nick, is rent control. It is an absolutely outdated program that only protects the tenants and not the landlords. There is no motivation for the landlords to keep up their property when they can't even bank a meager return on their investment. The rent increase amount the owners are allowed to take (if any) is a joke and not commesurate with the increase in property takes, utilities, insurance, and required maintenance. One of our tenants received a $8 increase this year. $8. Think about that from the owner's perspective. Does that $96/year cover the cost to repaint the interior of their apartment every four years or re-carpet every seven? Does that $8 help to cover the general monthly maintenance cost? Does that $8 assist in a larger project like painting the building? The tenants in our building that are paying below (far below) market rent are the biggest complainers and run to the City with any possible complaint. Rent control should be amended or abolished to be a FAIR program for both the landlord and the tenant. Perhaps offering an incentive for owners to update their property - like being allowed to increase the rent a certain amount if a percentage goes into restoring their building. Rent control should also be able to be reviewed in the case of being substantially below the market rent.
Property Manager February 24, 2013 at 06:22 PM
There are programs for people to find affordable housing that should not include being at the detriment of landlords who are in business to cover their mortgage or being able to re-invest in their own property. If you'd like to start increasing the property values of delapidated buildings around WeHo, first take a look at how you can increase the landlord's ability to do so.
George Martin February 25, 2013 at 07:29 PM
If the City thinks that everybody should be able to borrow books for free, the City pays to build a library. If the City thinks everybody should be safe in their homes from crime and fire, the City pays for law enforcement and firefighters. If the City thinks everybody should be able to afford decent housing, the City pays to subsidize their market-rate rent. No, wait, that's not right—they make PROPERTY OWNERS pay for it. But apartment buildings are not charitable institutions, and property owners don't have bottomless pockets.
Charles W Arnold March 02, 2013 at 05:23 AM
West Hollywood has a special base of citizens that have been here because of rent control. Remove it and West Hollywood goes away. It becomes a big impersonal part of Los Angeles as it once was. With affordable rents we have " Beautiful People" that would be replaced by transient hot flashes and subsidized poor. The question is how to add maintenance cost to rents as needed without allowing wholesale demo lition and crowded overstuffed new huge buildings, like elsewhere are much worse than what is here now. It needs both sides of the issue to be at least honest.
K.M. March 07, 2013 at 02:34 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the newest beautification project is charging 10 cents for a grocery bag at any store in Weho. I am pretty sure Trader Joes or Ralphs or Smart and Final gets to keep that money (pure profit since that bag was free last month). If that were a 10 cent "beautification" tax instead of profit for the vendors it could be applied to programs like the one you mention or subsidizing rent control.

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