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Opportunity Knocks for Occupy L.A. — The Problem Is City Hall, Not Corporations

Wake up, you evolutionary revolutionaries of Occupy L.A., you are dancing with the very people you say you despise — the panderers to corporate greed and union selfishness, the people who serve the 1 percent at the expense of the 99 percent.

Besides even as devoted a liberal as Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who two weeks ago glad-handed you and told you to stay forever, thinks you’ve made your point — whatever point that is — and caused $500,000 damage to City Hall grounds so it’s time to go bother someone else.

tents.jpg

“They’ve made their statement. I agree with their statement, but it is
time to move on. The trees are in the process of being impacted. The
grass is being impacted. Other activities that we need to do on the
lawns are being put on the back burner,” Rosendahl told Channel 7. ”I frankly think if we can be civil about it, they should get the
message that it’s time to move on from our lawn at City Hall. It is
everybody’s lawn, not just those with their tents right now,”
Rosendahl hopefully will apply the “everybody’s lawn” rule to the tax dollars that he and his colleagues dispense so generously to such greedy corporate interests as Google, Chinese automaker BYD, Costco, Beverly Hills BMW, Farmer’s Insurance and Target under a three-year “new” business tax holiday that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wants to make permanent while he works on eliminating all business taxes.

“The
business tax holiday is a proven tool for bringing businesses to Los Angeles
and generating jobs,” Villaraigosa told the United Chambers of Commerce luncheon in Woodland Hills on Tuesday . 

“So today, for the
first time, I am calling on the City Council to make the three year tax holiday
for new businesses permanent. There should be no expiration date on this
common-sense, job-creating policy. 
I
support a fiscally responsible approach to the elimination of the business
tax.”

This is the same liberal mayor who with the full support of the same liberal Council imposed huge rate hikes on the 99 percent and the 1 percent for water and power and wants even bigger increases so he can pay DWP workers the huge pay increases he has been approving for the last six years.

It has taken a long while but even the LA Times has figured out what’s wrong with the tax holiday gimmick.

“The
problem with making the gross-receipts tax holiday permanent is that only those
businesses that arrived within the last three years, and new ones that arrive
from now on, would get it,” an editorial noted today. “Stalwarts that have stayed in the city for decades
and missed the three-year reprieve enjoyed by the newbies would be punished for
their loyalty. As new companies — competitors, perhaps — got a tax rate and
filing burden of zero, older firms would be stuck, in essence, underwriting
them. That’s patently unfair.”

A lot of renters feel the same way about the Council’s decision Tuesday to help out landlords at their expense. Rejecting a recommendation to split between landlords and tenants $67.83 in higher city fees on every rent control apartment to fund the scandal-plagued Housing Department’s hiring program, the Council chose to make the renters pay the full cost.

Here’s what tenant Leslie Ayres wrote to the Council:

“Where is the fairness, the equity and balance needed in this great
economic recession/depression?  Where is
your compassion and sensibilities?  You
would far better giving out less tax credits to the W Hotel for example
than what you are about to do upon disabled and folks living on social security.”

If there is still any doubt in anyone’s mind on whether City Hall is on the side of the 1 percent or the 99 percent, consider the “egregious situation” 81-year-old Hollywood businessman Aaron Epstein brought to light because he was shocked “our city entities are abandoning our students, reducing our needed police force, while at the same time offering unasked for funds to well-to-do property owners.” 

epstein.jpgWhat upset him was that te Community Redevelopment Agency which has poured billions of tax dollars into the pockets of wealthy developers in downtown and Hollywood for decades at the expense of the city’s neighborhoods, especially the poorest and most blighted ones, has a new deal to enrich commercial property owners with taxpayer gifts of up to $200,000 each. ( CRA-Hollywood.pdf


Columnist Steve Lopez picked up on Epstein’s concern and set up the story this way:

“Aaron Epstein, a Hollywood businessman, got an offer recently
that a lot of people in his situation would have leapt at.

“Hey, said City Hall, would you like a handout, Mr. Epstein?
If so, we’ll give you money — as much as $200,000 — to spruce up your building,
inside and out.

“It’s all part of a Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency
program to brighten up Hollywood Boulevard, and Epstein is one of dozens of
business owners eligible for cash loans.

“And the deal gets better.

“The loans don’t have to be repaid if owners keep up their
property for 10 years after getting the money.

“That was not a misprint.

“A small business can get $37,500 without having to pay it back, and can
qualify for up to $200,000 by matching with its own funds every public dollar
above $37,500. Owners of larger spaces can qualify for up to $150,000 without
having to match the public money.”


The justification for the program is that business owners will spruce up their stores and create jobs but Lopez found that job creation wasn’t a requirement until he raised the issue with CRA board member Madeline Janis who quickly got a rule added that would require merchants who get more than $100,000 to hire three workers at the “living wage” level for two years.

So here’s the opportunity for Occupy L.A. if the protesters want the 99 percent to get aboard and to work with them to change world: 

Go after the people who have betrayed Los Angeles — the politicians. The greed and selfishness of bankers and corporate executives and union bosses are supposed to be restrained by the people elected into office to serve all the people.

If they were doing their jobs as public servants at City Hall, at the state Capitol, in Congress, you wouldn’t be camping out and the rest of us wouldn’t be feeling so helpless and abused.
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11 Responses to Opportunity Knocks for Occupy L.A. — The Problem Is City Hall, Not Corporations

  1. Leslie Ayres says:

    A. PURPOSE
    The Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO), Chapter XV of the Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) was enacted by City Council through Ordinance #152120 in 1978 and went into effect on May 1, 1979. The purpose of the RSO is to allow landlords a reasonable return on their investments while protecting tenants from excessive rent increases. The City Council is the legislative body with the authority to change or amend the RSO.
    The Los Angeles Housing Department (LAHD) is responsible for administering the City’s RSO. This function is funded entirely by the annual rental unit registration fees. As a result of this funding, administration of the RSO does not increase the City’s tax base.
    B. City Council File 11-1488
    The proposal, 11-1488 seeks to raise money for the City of Los Angele’s Housing Department, rather than to bring about a balance between the cost of rent for the tenant and fair return for the landlord. The initial SCEP fee and Registration fee became law and policy because rents were relatively low and these pass through fees were seen as a means to offset operating costs for the owner, hence the “fair return” policy. Again, the ordinance is to protect from excessive rent increases by the landlord, while at the same time allow landlords a reasonable return visa via Registration Fees. (emphasis added)
    L.A. City Council file 11-1488 seeks to raise registration fees and SCEP fees on owners and tenants in an effort to raise funds for the City. The City plans to hire personnel and provide fringe benefits from money raised through these rental rate increases. In the past, these same building inspectors have taken bribes, and have approved buildings without providing the proper inspection required by law, thus placing at risk families living in residential properties.
    In 1999 I rented a one bedroom in Hollywood. This apartment was not under rent control. I paid $750.00 dollars. By 2006, the rent was $1,450 dollars. I moved. I move to a Rent Controlled Unit for $1,325.00 on Lafayette Park Place, LA. 90057. I recently move to a single whereby I pay $850 dollars, under Rent Control.
    Where I live today, the building is run by Dover Property Management Company. The building is only 12 Units. Back in 1979 when the ordinance was first passed rent for this unit was $300 dollars. So in terms of Revenue and Costs to maintain this building I can say that the team of care takers for this property includes illegal workers. This is only to point out, the owners doing their part to keep costs low. It’s simple math when the accountant posts revenue and allocates monthly costs for the owner of the building. What is a “fair-return” when family’s incomes are being taken as quickly as it is earned?
    Social Security has not been approved in three years and many seniors have seen their cost of living increase in each and every department across the board. As you know in 2012 recipients of social security will get an increase of roughly $38 dollars. This money will go to pay owners, reimbursement for SCEP and Registration fees. Are we more interested in a fair return for property owner over quality of life for a senior?
    I do not support a tenant who is paying market rent to also pay cost for operating the property in compliance with State and Local Health and Safety Codes.

  2. Anonymous says:

    These illegal gardeners/maintenance workers etc employed by your apartment owners lower these owners cost BUT there is a high cost to the society plus would you think somebody who’s unemployed may want one of these jobs???

  3. Anonymous says:

    The issue is, do the property owners make suffient profit. “Fair Return”
    Has one property owner submitted a Statement of Financial Position to prove-up they are not receiving a “fair return”?

  4. Anonymous says:

    M. Janis is Antonio`s socialist on the CRA board. The City is in a complete chaos, leaderless, taken over by the left, unions and AEG.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’ve asked this question several times on this blog but never got an answer — Villar is a failure now and has always been. So what stopped you from voting against him in 2009? If only another 100,000 or possibly less bothered to vote, Villar would be history now. And his defeat would send a tremendous shock to the established special interests. But nope you people couldn’t be bothered. Or no I forgot – Walter Moore wasn’t good enough Ha-ha-ha. Villar is

  6. Anonymous says:

    I have to comment on the stupidity of Ms. Janis. I apologize for calling her stupid, but at times candor outweigh being PC. No business will hire 3 full time employees because the CRA promises to spend $100,000 on their store facade. Ms. Janis is clueless why people hire employees. Here’s why — they have work for the employees to do and what they pay the employee is less than the money the employee makes for them.
    Also, letting the CRA rehab your storefront is asking for an endless nightmare of incompetence. I had a client who took a similar deal in Wesson’s district. The CRA demolished the facade and never replaced it with anything — the CRA just left the broken bricks so his building looked like a bombed out store in WW II France.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Socialist? I propose a new law which will carry the death penalty. Anyone who uses the word “Socialist” incorrectly shall be summarily executed by Judge Dredd.

  8. Anonymous says:

    6:26 pm How about communist?

  9. When CRA allows building’s to sit and look like they’ve been bombed, like the ones on MLK and Santa Rosalia, I wish I could penalize the CRA and place these buildings in REAP, so we could take our millions back from the CRA and distribute these funds to the surrounding good neighborhoods, for the embarrassment they have to face, day-in and year-out.
    Government should not be in the real estate development business. They have a poor history of being effective and efficient with taxpayers hundreds, of millions, of dollars.
    Respectfully, David Barron

  10. Ms Ayres, appreciate your comments.
    david barron

  11. TEST says:

    Mr Mayor Antonio, Mr Garcetti, Mr Caruso, no fair plagerizing. While you’re trying to buy votes from the protesters, impressing them with a good idea, don’t forget to mention that it was former mayoral candidate Walter Moore, who was advocating to repeal the City’s business tax.

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