30 JULY 2019 • WWW.AAGLA.ORG Member Update Leonardo V. Wilborn is a real estate broker in the Los Angeles area. He also serves as a Methodist pastor and is a member of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles’ Board of Directors where he currently serves as the Vice Chairperson of the Membership Committee. Culver City is the “new ground zero for multimedia and digital production” states economist and researcher, Christopher Thornberg, the founding partner of Beacon Economics. To understand why the cost of housing in Culver City is so high, Mr. Thornberg’s response is quite simple: “…there is limited supply and people bidding to the highest price to get a unit.” No blaming the rental housing providers (a/k/a, “landlords”). No blaming the property management firms or the onsite managers. Mr. Thornberg simply states, there is not enough housing for the jobs created in the city and for the people who are hired to fulfill those positions. More housing production is the solution for Culver City and the entire state of California for that matter. As the labor market continues to expand in terms of number of positions hired, and the hourly rates of those working keeps on going up, there will naturally be more individuals who can afford housing, even as housing costs continue to rise. Naturally, the question is, how can more housing be made available to a growing workforce and population? Depending on who you believe, California as a whole needs to build 180,000 housing units per year over the next 10 years, just to keep pace with the increase housing demand. Presently California averages about 80,000 new housing units per year. So, why doesn’t California, or Culver City in particular, build more housing you ask? Mr. Thornberg’s response is straight out of an Economics 101 class: “In all cities, to cover the cost of [operating] the municipality there must be an intentional effort to provide for the city’s operational cost.” In other words, revenues from business helps the local municipality meet its budget, while expenditures – like the building housing – does not. It is often said that Culver City has “never had it so good,” and it is the belief of all persons who have lived within the city for the last 20 years. The new Metrorail is just the most recent manifestation of the transformation that has occurred in Culver City. Mr. Sol Blumberg, Culver City’s Director of Community Development, reminded an audience of a recent gathering of residents and members of the local business community about the various projects the city has successfully completed, or is in the process of completing. There is the new Ivy Station, a combination of an elevated Metrorail stop, apartments, retail stores, CULVER CITY’S HOUSING CHALLENGES By Leonardo Wilborn offices and commercial space, which is expected to be open within the next 18 months. There is Project Access, directly across the street from Ivy Station, which is another housing, office and commercial development. Then there is 8777 Washington Boulevard, the eventual new home for Apple, and 8888 Washington Boulevard that houses the Scepely interactive entertainment firm. Also, there is One Culver located 10000 Washington Boulevard, a project that is used by Sony Entertainment and other multimedia firms in a shared creative space. Finally, there is the Culver Steps, new creative offices next to the Culver Hotel that will eventually hold offices for Amazon, and the Culver Studios, which are currently being remodeled to become the base of operations for the Amazon Media Production Company. Culver City has a lot going on. Dr. Thornberg has nothing but praise and expectations for great things coming our way in Culver City. He does offer words of warning; however, and those are “beware of miserabilism” – the practice of promoting social problems in order to create a profit. What is the profit? In Mr. Thornberg’s mind, profit is the desire to push through restrictive housing laws by community leaders and politicians to gain favoritism by a select group of individuals. His other words of advice is to “ignore weapons of Mass Distraction.” You see these events on television news nearly every night – mass distraction is the “wag the dog” tale where an event (the justified eviction of a resident for non-payment of rent or for illegal activities or for damage to your property) is reinterpreted as a human rights issue, in order to distract people form the truth and the truly important issues. But what is the number one issue? If you or I spend any amount of time, let’s say from 3 months to 30 years, paying a mortgage to invest in a rental property, does the desire of a select group of people to restrict my investment override my sweat, labor and faith in God to participate in the American capitalistic dream? I think not.