A Problem Seeking a Solution

Last Updated: March 8, 2024By Tags:

Over the past several years, Berkeley, Oakland, West Hollywood, Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles have attempted to dramatically modify and revise basic STATEWIDE procedures, protocols and regulations pertaining to EVICTIONS and related issues.

Because of the pandemic, in 2020, we observed the City of Los Angeles adopt a rent freeze that did not expire until February 1, 2024. Concurrently, cities throughout the State, supported by the Governor and the JUDICIAL COUNCIL as well as the Presiding Judge, California Supreme Court, adopted a series of eviction protections/ moratoria.

As the Coronavirus subsided, vaccines were readily available, medication for the disease and symptoms were plentifully in stock, and our cities opened.

Due to the shutdown, a number of our restaurants, movie theaters, bars and other retail outlets were destroyed and never re-opened.

The workforce never returned to their Offices and demanded to work remotely. Ancillary businesses that accommodated our commercial and retail outlets closed.

As we saw during the Black Lives Matter parade, our City leaders were fearful and/or intimidated to enforce our laws, and we saw a series of well-organized shoplifting attacks by youth gangs. They drove to a shopping center or stores, enter with ski masks, and simply remove products.

Our District Attorney was afraid to prosecute. Our State legislators elevated the definition of petty theft so it almost approached $1,000.

This is THE LANDSCAPE under which we discuss the insanity known as the tenant protection packages. Understand, these regulations at the Santa Monica City level were always designed to achieve a single purpose: destroy any advantages available to Landlords in a litigated situation and, regardless of the outcome of the case, allow the Attorneys to recover Court costs and Attorney fees. Yes, money is the engine driving these insane regulations.

Tenant activists have been enjoying modest success over the last several years. Lawsuits initiated by AAGLA routinely failed. Mr. Palmer’s Lawsuit has yet to proceed to Trial.

Now it appears that some of the information available to our Judiciary has begun to provide a clearer picture that Tenants have been manipulating and exploiting the system, and getting protections that were not lawfully available.

For example, CAA filed a Lawsuit against the County of Los Angeles, which had extended the eviction notification from the historic three-day notice to a 30 days notice. Judge Mitchell Beckloff drafted a Writ of Mandamus dismissing and striking down that County Ordinance. This is significant because Santa Monica is attempting the same concept.

Most recently, the AAGLA rent freeze case, which was dismissed on December 5, 2023, may be restored, as the Court failed to calculate Rule 9 of the emergency ordinances during the Coronavirus which allowed an extra 180 days when calculating a statute of limitations issue. This is still pending.

Others in the community, including ACTION Member Edith Karmes, have aggressively posted opposition to the new Santa Monica Ordinances. However, as Attorney Matt Millen reminds us, these protocols were being discussed in August of 2023, and presented in January 2024. If organized OPPOSITION was not presented, then the matter would proceed on February 13, 2024 on the consent calendar with no opportunity for opposition or public comment.

Remember, trade associations, such as AAGLA, Southern Cities, CAA and ACTION, lost staff during the pandemic. You cannot realistically demand that every one of these Associations task a staff member to appear and challenge these items. This is simply not realistic. Undermanned and overworked, our ASSOCIATIONS are doing their best.

What we should understand is that many of these homegrown procedures should be unlawful pursuant to AB 1482 which provides a universal and comprehensive Rent Control for all 364 California cities.

Yes, the California Supreme Court leading case, Birkenfeld vs. Berkeley (1976), 17 Cal 3d 129; 30 Cal Rptr 465, provides the guidelines for considering Rent Control Measures.

Until the Santa Monica regulations have been adopted either by the City Council and/or upon a vote, on November 24, we are somewhat premature in our evaluation.

However, Landlords would always challenge, contest and oppose a new regulation wherein the Tenant, without the knowledge, consent or permission of the Owner, remodels the rental unit, and we are prohibited from removing the Tenant, who is committing nuisance/waste, by way of eviction. The City Attorney’s Office, in explaining these Provisions, was disingenuous. Lana Negrete continued to demand explanations from the City Attorney in January of 2024, and she received deceptive and dishonest responses. She was told that the Landlord could go to Small Claims Court. However Small Claims Court only allows you to get a monetary Judgement, and the Tenant continues to reside at the premises, failing to pay rent, and continuing with his or her illegal reconfiguration of the unit.

We are told that in evaluating a Tenant Candidate, we are not allowed to get an explanation if the Tenant fails to provide a listing of their rental history, including communication with their previous Landlord for verification. If a Tenant lived on the street for years, they are now a protected class.


Everyone knows that under AB 1482 no rent in the State may be greater than 10 %. Those are for rent-stabilized units, only. Remember, Owner-occupied duplexes and triplexes, new construction within the last 15 years, single-family homes, retail outlets, and condominiums are exempt. Absent a Statewide emergency, such as a flood, a hurricane, or wildfires, the Owner, at his or her discretion, may set the rents and rent increases. Penal Code Section 396 governs rent gouging.

Relocation assistance is an attempt to destroy the exempt property. Buyout arrangements should also be unlawful.

There can be no excessive rents if the Owner consults property management groups, realtors, and other related professionals, and finds the rental arrangement for a unit to be established. Santa Monica Housing Department has a list by zip code of the appropriate rent for HUD properties, and the Rent Control Authority has a similar list based on zip code for the value of the unit. For example,. a studio may have an established value of $1,940.

If you have luxury amenities and parking, then you may get a slightly higher rent.

Remember, new Tenants who are very wealthy have been protected from paying the parcel taxes and bonds.

The Penalties for violations are all in violation of the provisions of the Civil Code wherein the Petris Act requires that before an Owner is sanctioned, penalized or undergoes any type of forfeiture, there must be a good faith effort to notify the Owner and allow him or her sufficient time to address the problem.


The Rent Control Authority and City Council Members manipulated and fabricated the information about Evictions in order to promote the false impression that Santa Monica is suffering from an Eviction crisis. We know in 2018 there were only six Evictions for non-payment of rent. Additional information now reveals there are few, if any, Evictions for either nuisance, waste or non-payment of rent.

These New Protocols were designed to promote items to be installed on the November 2024 election ballot to demonstrate that SMRR still had a stranglehold on the City. The crisis is manufactured, fabricated and unnecessary.


The inquiry made by ACTION Members is legitimate and appropriate. A fair response would require a WORKSHOP sponsored by the Housing Department, Housing Commission, Rent Control Authority, and at least one or two well-trained, experienced and knowledgeable Landlord-Tenant Eviction Attorneys. Tenants do not own the unit. Tenants must pay reasonable rent as established by the authorities. There is no lawful arrangement where a Tenant must obtain a certificate of eviction from the Rent authority before bringing forth an action.

Berkeley, Oakland and Santa Monica have become advocates of extreme rent control because they know that our trade associations are not as strong as perhaps 20 years ago, and several of our litigators, such as Don Woods, and our friend who passed away, Rosario Perry, cannot provide legal intervention at our Courts. Santa Monica has 70% Renters, dominated and manipulated by SMRR.

Attend ACTION Meetings. Please contribute to ACTION so we can defeat Michael Weinstein’s Justice For Renters November Initiative.

This article was submitted on behalf of the ACTION Apartment Association written by Michael Millman, Attorney, Mar Vista, (310) 477-1201

ACTION is an apartment association of rental property owners who united after radical rent control was enacted in 1979. We incorporated under California State Law as ACTION In Santa Monica. In 1991, we amended our name to ACTION Apartment Association, Inc. so as to accurately describe our activities as a full-service trade association representing Santa Monica and the entire Westside of Los Angeles.


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