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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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

michael February 18, 2013 at 05:49 PM
This kind of thinking is why we must vote For Duran and Prang and NO on C.
Insider February 18, 2013 at 05:55 PM
Nick - Do you think rent control has any negative consequences to landlords? What does rent control do to the supply of housing? Does increase it or decrease it?
Nick Garzilli February 18, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Insider, From what I see rent control does seem to have negative effects on landlords. For example I met a lady that was renting the guest house over the garage in the back of her house. She is not rich. She is a nurse. She was explaining to me that she couldn't let her dying mother come and live in her guest house without paying the renters $18,000. That seems like a lot just to get someone to move. I think rent control is good in that it keeps people from getting priced out of their homes, but also leads to places that don't get kept up. My hunch is that rent controlled restricts the supply of housing because less people move, less turnover.
me February 18, 2013 at 06:18 PM
so having an IDEA is better than doing NOTHING about the problem???....the current council hasn't done anything to address this issue, which is the reason why we need to do exactly the opposite of what michael suggests and vote out the incumbents and YES on term limits....seems their stance is "out with the old and in with the new" and forget the long-time residents of this city....they can move off to east LA or somewhere where their rent isn't $2,500 a month.....the council "says" they are pro-rent control, but their ACTIONS don't suggest this every time they make backroom deals with their developer cronies to bulldoze the city at warped speed.....our city is 1.9 miles long; nowhere in any other local city do you see this type of mega-growth happening.....i'm for growth, but SMART GROWTH....if we continue on this current path, weho will look NOTHING like the city we know and love today....
joninla February 19, 2013 at 02:06 AM
I am sure your intent is good, but it does not work. There is often a joke that Economists Never Agree on Anything ... With one exception. ALL Economists (right, left, middle, rich, poor - it is totally non-partisan and non-socioeconomic) know as an undisputed proven theory .... RENT CONTROL IS UNSUSTAINABLE. The nature of the Free Market System in the U.S. makes Rent Control a program that CAN NOT operate for the benefit of either Tenants or Landlords. The long term results of Rent Control ALWAYS lead to FEWER and FEWER available rental units, and the CONDITION of the remaining units will continue to deteriorate and eventually disappear from the 'rental market' altogether. It's not about "greedy landlords" or the true need for affordable housing, especially elderly, disabled and low income people who could not afford the market rate for a basic apartment. The results after 25 years of West Hollywood's "Rent Control" ("rent control" was abolished by the State Legislature changing the Rental Laws affecting all of California. "Rent Stabilization" is all that of West Hollywood's on-going claims of 'rent controlled city') IS EXACTLY THE CONDITION OF THE SAMPLING OF DILAPIDATED YOU DESCRIBE. THIS OUTCOME WAS KNOWN (BY ECONOMIC THEORY AS FACT) BUT THE CITY CHOSE TO MAKE IT PART OF THE CITY CHARTER AND GIVE IT TO ALL (not just low income residents) THE GIFT OF RENT CONTROL IN EXCHANGE FOR THEIR VOTES. NOW THE PIPER NEEDS TO BE PAID FOR THAT DECISION.
Nick Garzilli February 19, 2013 at 05:38 AM
Joninla, I feel you. I am at the tip of the spear in trying to get a free market in transportation. Free Markets are economically sustainable. Rigged markets with an agenda are not. However, we are currently spending a good deal of money on "Rent Stabilization" in WeHo. Is this a better way to use these resources? At least the funds are targeted at the individuals. More of a direct injection. One of the pillars that WeHo was founded on was rent control. Hard to escape that. Let's try to give rent control a facelift. In my view, crowd sourcing projects might be a noble pilot project. It could be fun for the community as people get involved and places and neighborhoods transform for the better. I agree, long term something has got to give. How long will these buildings last? What I am proposing is a possible way to get some much needed love to dilapidated buildings. Maybe this a big band-aid that is only stretching the time these buildings have left, but at least things could start to look better and people could live healthier lives now. If things look better that should raises property values for all. You are talking to someone that is naturally a libertarian when it comes to politics. I am very socially liberal but fiscally conservative, so yes a Free Market is always the most desirable solution. However, a Free Market is not always possible in our divided political environment.
George Martin February 20, 2013 at 01:02 AM
I completely agree with joninla. I would add that D'Amico has made proposals along the lines of providing landlords with low-interest loans to maintain and improve their properties. But since all landlords in this City are "greedy landlords," they of course don't deserve any help, do they? So there's been no movement on this. Also, the process for landlords to apply for rent increases to pay for improvements is so daunting and slanted toward tenants that most conclude it's pointless to try. The Council depends on tenants for votes and developers for money. If you're not in one of those groups, the message is "Screw you." There's a word for property that an owner has no financial incentive to maintain. What’s that called? Oh yes – slum.
George February 20, 2013 at 04:11 AM
The landlords do the minimal amount of maintenance necessary to maintain the properties. They don't care just as long as they get there rent. A paint job would do wonders. The other side to that is the people who they rent to abuse the property. There is always another side.
David February 23, 2013 at 03:14 PM
Many older apartment buildings are wood framed buildings and many may have water damaged walls,especially in bathrooms,like my apartment once did.I live in a rent controlled building in Los Angeles although my zip code is 90046.
Nick Garzilli February 23, 2013 at 07:35 PM
David, what do you think it would take to fix these places up on average? How many thousands of dollars? My guess is $5K would do wonders for most of these places.
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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