Tue, Dec

Hertzberg and Nazarian  Face Valley Village Homeowners Association


PERSPECTIVE-Should the state override the zoning preferences of local communities?

Will small landlords take too much of a hit from AB-3088? Is High-Speed Rail part of the infrastructure needed to add housing in the exburbs? 

These are three of the issues addressed at the October 21 meeting of the Valley Village Homeowners Association. 

Senator Robert Hertzberg (photo above left) and Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian (photo above right) cast opposing votes on SB-1120,  which would have allowed up to four units on a single family lot, with the former voting

“Yes” and the latter “No.” 

The clock ran out minutes after the bill narrowly attained the votes it needed in the Assembly to push it back to the Senate for approval. Its proponents will try again in 2021. 

The bill would have made local zoning subordinate to the will of the state. 

Hertzberg claimed it was a necessary compromise because there are many in the state who are disenchanted with the SFR concept. 

However, there are also many who value the quality of life associated with single family homes. He admitted, “it is everybody against everybody.” 

He suggested his role in this matter as a senator was to support the general position of the state’s population as a whole and not just that of his district, which was overwhelmingly opposed to allowing quadruple the number of units on single-family lots. He admitted the feedback his office received was almost 100% against the bill. 

I appreciated his candor but disagree with how he saw his role. The Senator needs to remember his constituents count more than the Wiener-developer cabal. 

When asked by a resident what he thought of diminishing local input on housing, he did not have an answer. He offered to talk to the individual privately over the phone. 

Another resident criticized the legislature for its cumbersome approach to resolving the housing crisis – some 64 individual bills over four years! 

Hertzberg also discussed rent affordability and the relief provided through AB-3088. 

He said the end result of its passage – the deferral of rent – was “an unintended consequence.” I am sure small landlords have another term for it. 

After all, foregoing 75% of the rent due in certain cases could destroy the margin of a 1- to 4-unit property and leave a landlord in dire financial straits. Sure, there is a requirement for the tenant to repay it after January 2021, but what are the chances of that if our economy does not open up?

AB-3088 stated: 

If you provide the declaration form to your landlord as described above (note – the declaration would serve as documentation of financial hardship) AND, on or before January 31, 2021, you pay an amount that equals at least 25 percent of each rental payment that came due or will come due during the period between September 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021, that you were unable to pay as a result of decreased income or increased expenses due to COVID-19, your landlord cannot evict you. Your landlord may require you to submit a new declaration form for each rental payment that you do not pay that comes due between September 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021.

You will still owe the full amount of the rent to your landlord, but you cannot be evicted from your home if you comply with these requirements. You should keep careful track of what you have paid and any amount you still owe to protect your rights and avoid future disputes. Failure to respond to this notice may result in an unlawful detainer action (eviction) being filed against you.

For a more succinct description of the bill, go to the National Law Review’s summary.  

To his credit, Hertzberg said he fought to limit the rent deferral to 15% but had to compromise. The difference between the 15% and 75% deferrals sounds more like capitulation than compromise. How about 50% or somewhere else in between? 

Small landlords were left hung out to dry. They should have at least been allowed to counter tenants’ requests for deferrals by documenting the impact a 75% cut in cash flow from a given unit or units would have on their personal finances. 

Infrastructure needed to support more density came up when Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian addressed the group. As mentioned earlier, he voted against SB-1120. For that, Valley Village residents were grateful. 

Nazarian offered no insight as to how and when the infrastructure would be added, much less funded.

He suggested that transportation improvements would encourage residential construction in the Antelope Valley. Shorter commuting time into the LA metro area would make living in Palmdale and Lancaster more attractive, thus encouraging construction of new housing. 

Very true. 

I asked him then why not pull funding from the CA High-speed Rail project to improve Metrolink service from Palmdale and Lancaster. He replied that HSR would fill that need. 

I reminded him that HSR was a “rathole” and the money would be put to better use on rail improvements to existing systems serving the south. 

Even if the costly system extended south of Bakersfield, it would be many years before it connected to the Valley and downtown. Merced to/from Bakersfield does us no good. The cost of $20.4B for that 119 mile length is just a hint of the enormous cost of pushing through the Tehachapi Mountains.

He seemed to take issue with my description of the ever-growing money pit as a “rat hole” and said, “I was going off on a tangent.” Obviously, the Assembly Member does not mind spending $100B on a project which will not benefit commuters who just need to get to and from work in Southern California. 

He does not understand that for far less, improvements can be made along all the routes used by Metrolink and Amtrak’s Surfliner, adding reliability and speed. Far more residents need efficient transportation to travel within the region than they do to travel between Northern and Southern California. 

If I were going off on a tangent, better that than Nazarian burying his head in the sand. . .with your money. 

The meeting was held over Zoom; I must admit, it is more efficient, although in-person is still important. There is no substitute for personal interaction, not just between speakers and the audience, but among the entire audience. I missed the opportunity to talk informally with residents both before and after a meeting. 

Perhaps a combination of Zoom and live will be the way to go once we are over the pandemic. Get the best of both worlds.


(Paul Hatfield is a CPA and former President of the Valley Village Homeowners Association. He blogs at Village to Village and contributes to CityWatch. The views presented are those of Mr. Hatfield and his alone and do not represent the opinions of Valley Village Homeowners Association or CityWatch. He can be reached at: [email protected].). Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.