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A Look at 1 Rent Case 2 Years Later

September 04, 1988

How soon we forget! By pure accident I had the chance to read again an article about one of the many cases of elderly people forced by Santa Monica rent control to rent units at such a low price that they had no money for upkeep. The title was "Board to Look at Hardship Cases Among Landlords." (Times, June 6, 1986).

In the two years since, did they look into those cases? Of course not. That is only a pet statement they use whenever the need arises without ever meaning it.

In reality, the situation had been made intentionally and gradually worse. (Annual rent adjustments, for example,) are calculated on a percentage of the rent, for example, so that the lower the rent, the lower the increase, although the cost of repairs and services increases by the same amount for everybody, regardless of how much the rent is. Or renters . . . (are never made to) pay for their share of the increases in city fees (like water, rubbish collection and sewer), which come at regular intervals, because the city, unlike apartment owners, cannot operate without money, lots of it.

Finally, in your article, (Councilman Dennis) Zane is quoted as saying: "I don't know of anyone who has gone bankrupt because of the rent control law." Perhaps not, but now, two years later, Mr. Zane must certainly know of owners who were forced to sell and of course with rents so low, the only buyers are those wanting a place for themselves and their families to live in.

And Mr. Zane must also know of all those owners who were forced to demolish, and of those who found that it was economically more convenient not to re-rent a unit when it became vacant.

I don't know Mr. Zane's profession, but it cannot be accounting or management. If it were, he would know that when rents are not in accordance with the value of the apartments, then, for lack of upkeep, the value of apartments decreases to match the rent. In other words, you get what you pay for.

PAUL KOT

Santa Monica

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