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Where Is the Justice in Rent Control Law?

February 05, 1989

In Poland almost 50 years ago, they put me in a concentration camp, took away my property and created a government where justice was denied to me because I was a minority and easily exploited.

My neighbors all said: "This is wrong, but what can we do? It's the law."

So, I came to America to live where the Constitution says that government is not able to take away the rights and property of a minority in order to satisfy political lusts. I started with nothing, worked hard, saved and 20 years ago bought property on Wilshire Boulevard.

But in Santa Monica, I am again a minority--a landlord, and the power-hungry government has bought the majority tenant vote by forcing me and others to keep our rents ridiculously low. This city says it's legal for a majority to vote themselves a monetary benefit at the sole expense of the minority. Think about that, how could that be constitutional?

Here in Santa Monica for 10 years, the local government has used legions of lawyers and endless complex and costly maneuvers to effectively take my property away. This city has prevented me and other landlords from using our own land or from getting out of the rental business unless we pay huge fees that are almost as much as the value of the land itself. In other words, in Santa Monica as a landlord, I am a slave--forced to work against my will unless I buy my freedom at the expense of losing much of what I worked for. Some choice.

This city won't let me and others just get out of the business of subsidizing rents for tenants who "enjoy" radical rent control, even though many of those tenants are rich. This city's rent board continues to expand its budgets, its number of lawyers and its disregard for constitutional rights. This city's political leaders find it profitable to exploit and take away the rights and property of a minority to gain political power. My neighbors all say: "This is wrong, but what can we do? It's the law."

In 50 years, nothing has changed.

The rent control people fear that if we landlords should win our fight for justice . . . then their base of power would crumble. I am not trying to end rent control, I just want my constitutional rights restored and (to) end this legal blackmail scheme.

Those outside this city who have the power to bring justice here find it politically unpopular to help landlords. It is also very profitable for many people to keep landlords struggling forever against this legal stalling process.

Where is the true light of freedom I sought so long ago? Where is the true meaning of this country's Constitution I once admired? Where is the "justice for all" I sought in America? It's been hidden by legal gobbledygook and political lusts.

In 50 years, nothing has changed, and now, as it was then, it is beneficial for the majority to just look the other way and pretend this injustice doesn't exist.

HENRY YARMARK

Santa Monica

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