Santa Monica: “Rent Control Board wants powers expanded,” by Nick Taborek, Santa Monica Daily Press, June 3, 2010
In a bid to significantly broaden the scope of tenant protections in Santa Monica, the Rent Control Board wants to bolster rules that protect against evictions and extend those protections to cover all tenants in the city, rather than just those who live in rent-controlled apartments.
To take effect, the proposed changes would require Santa Monica voters to approve several amendments to the Rent Control Agency’s charter.
Read full story→
East Palo Alto: “E. Palo Alto voters could approve new rent control law Tuesday,” by Jessica Bernstein-Wax, San Jose Mercury News, June 2, 2010
At 22 years old, East Palo Alto’s rent control law is no spring chicken — and city leaders, community groups and others are hoping voters will opt to strengthen and modernize it at the ballot box Tuesday.
Many blame the existing rent stabilization ordinance’s vagueness and inconsistency with state law for a string of legal disputes over the past couple of years between the city and Page Mill Properties, which was the city’s largest landlord until it defaulted on a loan to Wells Fargo Bank and lost its 101 East Palo Alto buildings to foreclosure earlier this year.
San Francisco: “Triumph of tenacity,” by Rebecca Bowe, San Francisco Bay Guardian, June 2, 2010
Nearly four years after City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed suit against Frank and Walter Lembi and their dizzying array of companies affiliated with CitiApartments for “an outrageous pattern of corporate lawlessness,” the powerful and notorious San Francisco landlords have watched their empire crumble.
The Lembi empire consisted of more 300 apartment buildings in San Francisco at its peak. Four Lembi subsidiaries that owned 16 buildings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February. Twenty Lembi properties were taken over by Lennar spin-off LNR in late May; another 24 buildings are slated to be foreclosed in early June; 51 were deeded back to UBS bank in lieu of foreclosure early last year; and still others are now held by court-appointed receivers and managed by Laramar, an unaffiliated property-management company.
Are SF Landlords Protecting Tenants From Identity Theft The Way They Should?” by Angela May Chen, SF Appeal, June 1, 2010
As part of the monthly bill-paying ordeal, I open my dreaded credit card statement, sigh, fold it back up, and proceed to recycle it. Immediately, my sharp-eyed mother scolds me and fetches the letter right back, tearing up the statement where my name, address, and account information was printed. Once an identity theft victim herself, my mother reminds me to take all precautions with my mail.
Such seemingly nuanced safety measures may be necessary amidst the rising crime of identity theft. According to a report filed by the Federal Trade Commission in 2008, California had the second-highest identity theft rate per capita, right behind Arizona. And in San Francisco alone, 86 cases of identity theft were investigated by the District Attorney’s Office last year.
San Francisco: “Parkmerced in Default: What Now for Owners’ Plan to Bulldoze Over 1,500 Rent-Controlled Homes?” by Dean Preston, BeyondChron, June 1, 2010
The owners of San Francisco’s Parkmerced cannot pay their mortgage, yet they want permission from the city to demolish more than 1,500 rent controlled homes. While most of the public discussion about the proposed development project has been about environmental, transit and preservation issues, the planned demolition of so many rent-controlled housing units is reason alone to stop this project.
Parkmerced was built by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife) after World War II. Met Life also built similar complexes in New York City (The Riverton Houses, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village) and other large U.S. cities. For decades, these developments have provided stable housing for middle-class renters in increasingly expensive urban real estate markets.