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Council to Consider Lifting Rent Control for Landlords who Retrofit

Councilman Bernard Parks seeks to "incentivize" earthquake safety.

Devastation after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Patch file photo.
Devastation after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Patch file photo.

Apartment building owners would be exempted from rent control laws in the City of Los Angeles as an incentive to retrofit buildings for earthquake safety, under a city council proposal, it was reported today.

Councilmember Bernard Parks said the action would “incentivize retrofitting” and that city staff should evaluate passing through all of the costs to tenants but do it “over a reasonable period of time,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

The city council is already looking into a state bond measure that would help owners pay to seismically retrofit their buildings, but Parks told the newspaper the city should first see if there's a simpler solution. Right now, only 50 percent of the cost of major apartment rehabilitation project can be passed through to tenants.

“Before you start ... looking to the state for funding, you should first look to your own city ordinances and see if there might be a simpler solution,” Parks told The Times. “You don't ask for bond money to keep your property in tiptop shape.”

In October, The Times reported that by the most conservative estimate, as many as 50 of the more than 1,000 older concrete buildings in the city -- those built before 1976 -- would collapse in a major earthquake, exposing thousand to injury or death.

Despite the destruction of the 1994 Northridge earthquake -- when the earthquake damaged or destroyed about 200 structures and killed 16 people -- City Hall has paid little attention to how to help owners fund retrofits, Councilman Mitch Englander, who seconded Parks' motion, told The Times.

--City News Service


MICHAEL ZITTERMAN February 23, 2014 at 12:38 PM
The proposal is stupid, ignorant, short-sighted, and almost definitely an attempt to benefit owners. Retrofitting would provide owners with a lower cost of insurance premiums, therefore retrofitting would be an investment. Consideration should be given to passing on a portion of the cost (not more than 50%) that would be amortized over ten years, e.g., a $120,000 cost would be charged @ $500 per month (if 40 units, cost per unit = $12.50month). mz
Don Jagg February 23, 2014 at 01:54 PM
If this goes through, I'll probably end up living in a tent. I doubt it will collapse in the "Big One". Actually, it's time to leave. I've been living in the West Valley since 1970, but this City has been become very unfriendly to it's citizen, businesses, etc. It seems that the Council members just sit around and concoct things that will make it worse.
Sheri Haas February 23, 2014 at 06:23 PM
Dumbest idea ever. Landlords with unsafe buildings should not be able to collect ANY rent until their buildings are retrofitted for earthquake safety and also fined - not given a cash break. Mr. Parks, how many city council members own unsafe rentals? Find something better to do than harm constituents who pay your salary.
MICHAEL ZITTERMAN February 23, 2014 at 06:32 PM
Sheri, you make a valid point, but there should be a shared responsibility. Please review my concept and comment thereto. If the "contemplated" offering is serious, renters should en masse go to the meetings to talk about Impeaching anyone who promotes that plan. Thanks, mz
Scott Zwartz February 24, 2014 at 10:41 PM
Yes, many landlords lack rehab funds, but who is poorer than the landlords? The tenants. This is one more example of placing the greatest financial burdens on the people who can least afford it. The city is the one who fell down on the job -- it has had decades to locate these structures and help the owners retrofit them. Instead, the city gave $1.5 BILLION to a billionaire real estate developers for things like a $52 M parking garage next to Eli Broad's art museum. If the City is going to give away tax dollars, it should give it so that the money benefits the people who need help and NOT to multi-billionaires like Eli Broad.
Sheri Haas February 25, 2014 at 11:15 AM
Michael, I do share responsibility, I pay rent. If you can't afford to be a building owner, don't be one. I could use some financial assistance occasionally, but my landlord is not my support system and tenants should not share in landlord's financial issues. Plus, the proposal lacks details, rent control suspended for how long, rent increases allowed for what amount and when. City Council needs a Renault, not rent control.
Sheri Haas February 25, 2014 at 11:16 AM
Rehaul not Renault.

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