“Bass and Garcetti — Identical Cousins on LA's Housing, Homeless Efforts” by Daniel Guss
With LA Mayor Eric Garcetti finally out of City Hall for the first time since 2001, and his newly minted successor Karen Bass in control, and a homelessness emergency declared with a lot of fanfare, it seems that the big surprise is that Bass's homeless plan is essentially the same as Garcetti's.
So they're cousins!
Identical cousins, all the way!
They laugh alike, they talk alike.
At times they even walk alike.
What a crazy pair!
That’s why John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou of “The John and Ken Show” on KFI AM-640 have started calling hizzoner (actually, now it’s heronner) “Karen Garcetti.”
Make no mistake, we all want Bass to achieve substantially better results on these and other chronic problems, which is a low bar considering Garcetti’s incessant flowery-languaged dishonesty on virtually every subject. But there are several things that Bass and the Los Angeles City Council can — and should — do quickly before they make LA’s enormous mess even worse.
Stop the bleeding by broadening rent control
As a free market capitalist, people ask why I am now in favor of a much broader rent control policy. Isn’t legislating what a landlord can charge a tenant the opposite of capitalism?
No, it isn’t.
Every business is subject to regulation, often in response to crises such as anticipated regulation of the cryptocurrency industry in the wake of the alleged Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Sam Bankman-Fried. While some cities instituted rent control as a sort of beach equity, Santa Monica voters did so way back in 1979 in response to “a shortage of housing units, low vacancy rates, and rapidly rising rents.”
Throw in the fact that LA recently surpassed New York as having the largest homeless population in the U.S., and it’s clear that Bass and the LA City Council need much broader rent control as a tourniquet to protect those who are still housed but on the margins.
And yes, it can be done thoughtfully with respect to smaller landlords. The problem is whether the city’s leadership is capable of doing that with its one-size-fits-all mentality on most issues.
While they’re at it, City Hall needs to cut the crap about what “affordable housing” means. When they approve new housing projects, they often say that ten percent of the units must be reserved for affordable housing, which in reality still means unaffordability to most people who need it.
Stop referring to, and dealing with, homeless people homogenously
There are many different types of homeless people. In order to tackle the problem, LA’s politicians — who are ironically homogenous themselves — treat the problem homogenously with irrational one-size-fits-all approaches to homelessness.
Some people become homeless due solely to financial issues and life circumstances, like a divorce, health or job loss. Given their inclination to stay housed, they are likely going to be more cooperative in finding a place to live than those who are drug-addled, severely mentally ill or who simply came to California to squat on sidewalks from Victorville to Venice. Keeping people in these easier-to-remedy cases housed is no less important. It is just a much different ball of wax and should be treated as such.
Also, LA government messaging on being a sanctuary city is long overdue for a reassessment. Offering free housing, welfare, health insurance and cell phones to those who illegally cross the border also serves as an invitation to those who come from other parts of the U.S., as well.
Revisit the consequences of living wage ordinances
Former mayoral candidate Gina Viola proposes a $39 per hour “living wage.” It’s a fantastic idea except for the fact that it will do one of two things, and harm the people it intends to help.
One is that it will cause businesses to close, including mom-and-pop outlets, and destroy jobs that they already struggle to maintain. Or, they will relocate to more business-friendly places, such as when Toyota moved to a far better business environment in Texas. Thousands of Angelenos moved with it, costing the state, county and local governments a big chunk of their revenue. It also left thousands searching for new jobs or unemployed, which also hurt surrounding businesses.
Another is that ever-increasing living wages make automation more affordable… and likely. It is already happening, as explained by Mashed.
Keep in mind that robots don’t need breaks, vacations or health insurance. And they don’t sue for wrongful termination, worker comp or sexual harassment.
I am not saying that a living wage ordinance is a bad idea. But it is another way that bodies of homogenous politicians who have never signed the front of a paycheck in their lives champion sweet-sounding ideas without realizing the unintended consequences of further harming those who they’re trying to help.
It’s like the scrumptious chocolate twist the politicians see in their local coffee place. It looks, smells and tastes great, but it’s fried and fleeting and we all end up paying the price. (By the by, most donut places are family owned and therefore don’t have to pay any wage, let alone a living wage, by simply identifying employees as part owners.)
And then there’s this…
The NFL had some killer late-season games on Saturday and we wanted to pick up nachos from a local place that makes them better, more conveniently and less expensively than yours truly. My tequila-infused guacamole is far superior though, thank you very much…
I accidentally clicked on the app so that the order would be delivered instead of picked up. Shockingly, I discovered involuntary fees would have increased the cost of the nachos by a whopping 62 percent!
And that’s not considering its default setting of a 15 percent tip which, if added, would make the $11.29 nachos $20.97, or 86% costlier at no benefit to us.
Did you notice that the government always manages to get its share by taxing those vague fees?
And I have to ask, if we aren’t being served, who would get the tip? The kitchen help? Aren’t they in line for a $39 living wage? Not that these aren’t all hard-working souls, but we wound up canceling the order and going to another local haunt that didn’t pick our pockets. We wound up paying the same $20, but it was by choice because the lack of fees at the competing business gave us far greater value for the same amount of money.
It’s a cautionary example of how success and failure in business is a choice, just as it is with housing and homelessness. After all, the first restaurant is nacho only place to get football snacks. <rimshot>
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(Daniel Guss, MBA, was nominated for three 2022 LA Press Club awards and was a runner-up in 2021 and 2020. He is City Editor for Mayor Sam, Featured Contributor for CityWatchLA, KFI AM-640, iHeartMedia, 790-KABC, Cumulus Media, KCRW 89.9 FM, KRLA 870 AM, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Pasadena Star-News, Los Angeles Downtown News and the Los Angeles Times in its sports, opinion, entertainment and Sunday Magazine sections among other publishers.)
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