Opinion: Let housing providers work with tenants without more ordinances and penalties

People Post is a space for opinion pieces, letters to the editor and guest submissions from members of the Long Beach community. The following is an op-ed submitted by Paul Bonner, former President of the Apartment Association of California Southern Cities and current board member of the Small Property Owners Alliance, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Long Beach Post.

Over the past two years, rental property owners have tried to advocate for a more balanced approach to tenant/housing provider issues, but over and over again, council votes have gone in support of tenants with no protections or real forgiveness to housing providers.

While we want to help our tenants and have no desire to evict them, nor can we due to state legal protections for tenants, we need government to come up with stronger rules and regulations that help out the housing provider.

We have pushed for a monthly 1/12th payment of past due rent and that was voted down by council members Mary Zendejas, Jeannine Pearce, Roberto Uranga and Rex Richardson. Now we are faced with a different problem. In the proposed City of Long Beach budget Mayor Robert Garcia has proposed a $250,000 fund to assist tenants with suing their housing provider.

These funds in theory would go to Legal Aid and other non-profits to litigate on behalf of tenants; thus encouraging even more animosity between the two parties instead of trying to mediate the problem.

Why does the mayor want to spend precious general fund dollars on pushing forward litigation? Aren’t there important items in the budget that are being cut that could use $250,000, such as fire personnel, fire stations, library hours, summer music concert series, to name a few?

Hopefully, the City Council doesn’t approve this line item budget and instead allocates the funds to what is important to all residents.

The other issue that doesn’t seem to want to go away with certain council members is a proposed harassment policy. This discussion started back in July as a report that outlined all the ways a tenant can address their concerns. Following that report, it was not enough for Councilwoman Zendejas as she tried to bring back an agenda item to make the harassment policy an ordinance on Sept. 1; however, she pulled her own item.

What housing providers have learned through a public records request on the three council offices that put the harassment item on Sept. 1 agenda was that there were three complaints to Council member Uranga’s office, two complaints to council member Zendejas’s office and nothing from council member Pearce’s office over the past 90 days.  So why would the City Council  bring forth a policy for the entire city based upon five complaints over 90 days?

Think about it: We have thousands of tenants who have terrific relationships with their housing providers, why change that dynamic? Now, the rumblings out of City Hall is that the same council members are considering bringing the harassment policy back again for the Sept. 15th agenda. Again, ask yourself why? There are already countless rules and regulations at the state and city level that protect tenants. Housing providers are asking the council offices if you receive a tenant complaint; then try to  work with the housing provider to see how it can be resolved without another ordinance that can penalize housing providers financially.

We are all in this together and should be working together to try and resolve any differences. The pandemic has impacted everyone financially not just tenants.

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