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BLOG: Troubling Endorsement for Betsy Butler

How does Betsy Butler reconcile her position on rent control with the endorsements of both the Apartment Association and West Hollywood Council members Jeff Prang, John Duran and John D’Amico?

Given that Betsy Butler has been endorsed in the 50th Assembly District by three West Hollywood City Council members, I was incredulous when I read that Butler had been endorsed by the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, a group that has historically led efforts in Sacramento to undermine local rent control laws.

Not only did the Apartment Association oppose the incorporation of the City of West Hollywood back in 1984, it later shepherded the passage of the Costa-Hawkins bill through the California legislature in 1995 that severely weakened local rent control ordinances.  Costa-Hawkins has resulted in skyrocketing rents in West Hollywood and Santa Monica and has incentivized efforts to harass and evict long term tenants.  It is hard to reconcile Butler’s claim to be a progressive standard bearer when she aligns herself with the folks who would love to eliminate rent control.  Butler will clearly sacrifice the interest of thousands of working class tenants to further her personal political ambitions.

The Association clearly stated that its endorsement was based upon Butler’s “balanced approach” when it came to rent control issues.  But in light of the persistent erosion by the Democratic controlled State legislature of the local governments’ ability to enact pro-active rent control, it is safe to assume that by use of the word “balanced” the Association meant “pro-landlord.”  Of course the endorsement is coupled with a hefty amount of campaign contributions.

Competing Interests

Butler had to seek this endorsement and her alignment with the powerful landlords lobby reflects either a complete lack of understanding by Butler of the needs of West Hollywood tenants or a cynical betrayal of renter’s rights.  Either way you have to find this endorsement troubling.

Any further weakening of our local rent stabilization laws could result in the displacement of thousands of long term tenants.  Our local diversity could go the way of the Red Car along Santa Monica Boulevard.

Given that Butler has been endorsed by West Hollywood Council members John Duran and Jeff Prang, who are both former Rent Stabilization Commissioners, as well as newly elected Council member, John D’Amico, you would think that Butler might have been counseled not to seek the Apartment Association endorsement.  I just assumed that these Council members’ endorsements meant that Butler would have some sensitivity toward community concerns.  But apparently our local elected officials have little or no influence over the Butler campaign. 

Alignment with Local Concerns

In contrast Butler’s rivals are both highly committed to renter’s rights.  Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom has a long history of commitment to tenants and the preservation of affordable housing and Torie Osborn has been a consistent advocate.  Either of these progressive can be counted on to stand up for tenant’s rights if they go to Sacramento.

Butler’s touting of the Apartment Association endorsement reflects a tin ear to our local concerns that is probably a result of the fact that Butler is a South Bay politico who is a carpetbagger in the 50th Assembly District.  Butler is only running on the Westside because Assembly Speaker John Perez did not believe she could be re-elected in her reconfigured South Bay Assembly district.

For Betsy Butler, rent control may seem to be something of an esoteric or philosophical issue.  But to many Westside tenants, rent control is a question of protecting our homes.  If Butler does not understand the essential role rent control has played in the lives of thousands of Westside tenants, she is not the right person to represent our communities in the State Assembly.

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Marta Evry May 13, 2012 at 09:08 AM
Allegra, no worries. It sounds like you're putting a lot of thought and research into who you want to vote for. That's all anyone can ask. The reality is that none of these candidates are entitled to this seat. Each has to make their case, after that it's up to the voters to decide.
Ari Ruiz May 14, 2012 at 06:01 AM
Allegra, I´m sorry to bring up the history of a fomer Councilman. However, that is his record but don´t you find it a bit ironic that this is coming from him? I supported John D´Amico and John Duran and I respect your voice and vote.
allegra May 14, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Part one: I don’t Ari...but, that’s probably because I know him well, talk to him and have read his articles in the time since Steve was on Council almost a decade ago. I’m more pro landlord than Steve is. I know too many rent control abusers...who also have a house in Palm Springs. You point to something that happened (?) during the city hood campaign. That was twenty seven years ago, Ari. Have any of your views changed since 1984? Your comments just reminded me of hit pieces meant to sway the reader by spin. John D’Amico was recently accused by Larry Gross of being against affordable housing using the same project that you used on Steve. Everybody who supported that park has been attacked as being against affordable housing at election time. I have little doubt they will be again in our next election. That Rent Stabilization Director lied about me and other tenants in my building...Thank God she’s gone.
allegra May 14, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Part two: Every time Steve runs, some nut case puts out a hit piece using Steve’s vote on the Sunset Millennium against him...when in fact the rest of council voted the same way. People grow. Situations change. Points of view change. Look at Obama and gay marriage. If you don’t agree with someone, make a case. If you attack, instead, using out of date spin, it looks silly, dirty and doesn’t work on those of us who know better. Be careful of getting some of that mud on your candidate. She’s too pretty for that.
Barrett Meeker May 14, 2012 at 07:41 PM
I think being anti-rent control is being pro-renters. Rent control does nothing to control the median rent, it just cost shifts rent increases to people who move. This is a horrible system. Have a growing family and need to move to a bigger place? you'll be paying a lot more than your neighbors just because you moved more recently, regardless of how much more money they may make. I'm very pro-affordable housing and subsidies for low income people so they can keep living in the area but this kind of rent control cost shifting is totally detached from helping those who need help and those who don't.

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