Editor’s Note: The author of this report heads a company that manages 4,500 rental units in the L.A. market, most of them subsidized for low-income families. A third of those units are under the jurisdiction of the scandal-plagued Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), which is led Rudy Montiel, a highly controversial figure who is paid nearly $500,000 a year. Damaging federal audits that may cost the city more than $30 million, whistleblower and wrongful termination lawsuits, questions about low performance in providing housing — those are among a host of current issues plaguing HACLA. Levine Management brought tenants to Tuesday’s HACLA board meeting where Montiel wanted to turn management of 1,500 units over to two firms that charge more but scored higher in staff evaluations. Apart from questions about the HACLA’s processes in not renewing Levine’s contract HACLA-protest.rtf , what is important is that the tenants were not allowed to speak in apparent violation of the state open meeting law. The meeting itself and the agenda were not posted on the HACLA website.
By Jeffrey S. Levine
About 20 residents, including several disabled senior citizens, who reside in apartment communities for low-income elderly and poor families owned by the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), tried to attend a pubic hearing last Tuesday to testify on
behalf of the property manager, Levine Management Group, Inc. (LMG), but
were denied access.
Most journeyed from the San Fernando Valley, Northeast Los Angeles and East
Los Angeles to arrive promptly before 9:00 am intending to complete a ‘speakers card,’
required for them to speak before the Board of Housing Commissioners.
Unfortunately, only about half of them were able to fill out the speaker cards before the
attendant ran out of cards. They were advised not to worry, as the attendant would return with more cards in time for them to speak during the public comment part of the hearing.
Unfortunately, the attendant never returned with more speaker cards, and
the residents were ultimately informed that they would not be admitted
to speak because the hearing room was completely full, and that the
public comment time had passed.
All of them were very disappointed, as they had planned to advise the
Board how delighted they were with the property management services
being provided by LMG, and how dismayed
they were by the HACLA staff’s intention of recommending their replacement with two new property management companies.
State Law (The Brown Act) requires that all members of the public be
allowed to directly address any legislative body on any item of
interest to the public, before or during the legislative body’s
consideration of the item, that is within the subject matter
jurisdiction of the legislative body. Unfortunately, that did not
happen in this case.
This is not the first time that HACLA has
been embroiled in actions of allegedly inappropriate conduct as
reported by the HUD Office of Inspector General.