Opinion: WeHo Tenants Need a Voice. The West Hollywood Renters Alliance Will Provide It

The perspective that renters aren’t as important as owners has gone on for far too long. The voice of the tenant is often seen as “less than” in some patriarchal order of rank that overlooks our contributions to the city. While I agree that renters may be less invested in terms of equity, we are more economically and emotionally invested in the city. That’s a stark naked fact that often is unrealized by many of my fellow renters.

Even I sometimes forget the strength of our renter population (the 78% of West Hollywood residents) and understand the fear that we face. I am well versed in the trials and tribulations faced by our month to month population when dealing with landlords and management companies. At times I still have mild panic attacks because of the trauma I see. A flood of worry sets in when someone can take away your home. Especially when we have upheld our end of the contract.

We have paid our rent and upheld our leases, but all too often it feels as if there is no one holding landlords accountable to maintain properties. Far too often they have failed to uphold their end of the deal as plainly stated in our municipal code. It then takes drastic legal action to see the enforcement of the plainly written code. I feel that this needs to change.

We all need to understand that renters are a major component of the economic engines that power our community. We go to our jobs to earn a salary that pays for both rent and our recreation in the city. You will not find our names on the deeds of the buildings where we live. However, the apartment where I reside is my home. Renters are the majority and it’s time we feel empowered. Time we feel our relevance, our importance. Our power.

Let’s face it, landlords offer a service. We pay them an agreed-upon fixed rate and we receive ownership of that domicile for the agreed upon term. No one forces them into contracts with tenants. They are not trapped by the market as rent control was implemented at a time when rental rates were soaring. Every transaction in real estate since then has been performed under working knowledge of rent control.

Not all landlords are built equally. West Hollywood has many kind and loving landlords. Yet there are some landlords who act as comptrollers of their tenant’s lives. They are like the people who move into an area near an airport and then join the local crusade to close the airport. We don’t blame them for this position and understand the incentive for it, but we stand united against it.

In the last few weeks, we have walked the streets of West Hollywood gathering signatures to help repeal Costa Hawkins. As we walked up to people, ballot in hand, I saw their expressions — “Oh lord, what do these people with a clipboard want?”

I said as quickly as possible “do you want to sign something to help protect rent control?” They stopped in their tracks and responded “Hell yes!”.

We acquired 60 signatures on a rainy, pretty desolate evening on Santa Monica Boulevard. Each person told a tale of woe. They told stories of units in disrepair, neglectful landlords, skyrocketing rents without changes in property quality or service.

There is so much happening in the world around us that impacts renters and people just don’t know. They don’t know the tools that are out there to be used — their rights, amazing organizations, city departments, legislation. Often people only find these things out when a problem has arisen and it’s too late. We need an engaged active renters base. We need to create better legislation that works for us, endorsing candidates that speak for us that are us.

We had a soft opening meeting for the West Hollywood Renters Alliance just to see if there was a need, a want within our community to get organized, to get informed, to become a unified voice for Renters in West Hollywood. The want is there, the need is there.

We have been actively attending City Council meetings, Planning Commission meetings, Rent Stabilization Commission meetings along with West Hollywood’s tenant educational meetings. We are working to repeal Costa Hawkins, learning the legislation backward and forwards, and the Ellis Act. We have been voracious for data, and we are ready to have you join us!

We are the West Hollywood Renters Alliance.


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Eric Jon Schmidt
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Eric Jon Schmidt

WHRA,

Let’s get this thing off the ground. I am available to help in any way I can.

ericjoneric@gmail.com

wehoeric.com

wehoboy
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wehoboy

Some people simply cannot afford to live where they want to. I don’t live in Santa Monica because I can’t afford it.(Oh an ocean view). Rent control as it is seems to be more than enough one sided against the Owners. Yet rents are high. How does adding More anti-owner regulations make sense. THE point of owning a building is to make money, not a crime as some would like it to be. You need a balance between rents and cost to maintain a building. Repealing Costa Hawkins would cause a shortage of funds and West Hollywood would end up… Read more »

wehoboy
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wehoboy

The tougher the City makes it for Landlords to make money the more Apt. to Condos there will be. A no brainer. Be careful West Hollywood or you might find the city off limits to renters other than low income and that would not end well.

wehoboy
Guest
wehoboy

They have a voice, a real tough big mouth at that. The Rent Control board. JEEZ!

Rob Bergstein
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Rob Bergstein

There has always been a place, or rather, places, for tenant’s voices to be heard in The City, but there’s always room for more. If you’re concerned about the loss of any existing housing stock, or the status of any new housing stock that may or may not include affordable units, the place to speak out is at Planning Commission and City Council. If you have any concerns about housing built after 1979 or any of The City’s inclusionary housing or affordable housing units (none of which are covered by Rent Stabilization ordinances nor are the non-profits, their employees or… Read more »

Joshua88
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Joshua88

I know I wrote a thoughtful comment after reading this article.

It’s not here.

Was it something that I said?

To answer your question, Concerned Citizen, there doesn’t appear to be a set day or time, as they seem to be gauging interest. Here is their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WeHoRentersAlliance/

Sam
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Sam

There is a general miss understanding of what it would mean to repeal Costa Hawkins. Simply we are short of housing. We need 500,000 new housing every year for the next 5 years to meet the housing needs. When Costa Hawkins is repealed construction will come to a halt. Landlords incentive for spending on building will go away. Single family homes can be rent controlled. How does this create more homes? We need to tear down old buildings and build more homes. There is no open space to build the homes we need. I’m frustrated as you. Solutions make it… Read more »

Eric Jon Schmidt
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Eric Jon Schmidt

Please tell us what the Alliance has done for the renters?

Concerned Citizen
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Concerned Citizen

And when are the meetings? How do we join?

Wesley Bridle
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Wesley Bridle

Speaking as a private citizen. Thank you for your interest in our group, Mr. Eric Jon Schmidt. To answer your question. Our membership is composed of people who have lived in the WeHo area for at least 8 years, though that is not a prerequisite for membership. For the past 3 years our members have attended counicl meetings and other commission meetings on a perpetual basis, not just when we think we can run for council office. We have hoofed the streets of West Hollywood and knocked on our neighbors doors to promote candidates who stand up for Renter’s Rights.… Read more »

Eric Jon schmidt
Guest
Eric Jon schmidt

Again, I ask what has the alliance done for renters? Attending meetings is nice but what does it accomplish? I have been a renter in West Hollywood since 1997 except for a few years I moved to Hollywood. I have been attending Council meetings for many years . A renters alliance group should become a powerhouse and a Voting block to make sure that people are elected who will fight for them when they have issues with landlords and also to fight for lower rent or at least no increases. An alliance should conduct public protests and marches in the… Read more »

Alvin W Andersen
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Alvin W Andersen

I lived in West Hollywood for over 30 years. I moved there because 1) there were safe neighborhoods, 2) friendly people and mostly 3) reasonable rents. Unfortunately times change. 1 & 2 are still true, but as the social draw of weho became stronger, the rates went out of control for what you get. I had to leave 😪because I could no longer afford my apartment in a 40 year old building that had termites, bedbugs, mice, faulty wiring, leaky plumbing, disease ridden hot tub among other problems. I lived in the building for some time. My rent went from… Read more »