Archive for the ‘Accomplishments’ Category

Helping Homeowners & Communities

In Accomplishments on March 2, 2009 at 7:12 am

As I have said throughout my campaign, the City and the people should be allies not adversaries. There must be less confrontation and more cooperation; less government by litigation, and more government by thoughtful legislation borne out of thorough, reasoned debate.

The City Attorney can make that happen. As City Attorney, I, Noel Weiss, will make that happen.

As a private citizen, I have been committed to doing what I can to make the system work better for the people, help bring the City together, and have our system better reflect its core social values and principles:

For Homeowners & Communities:

1.  Filing the first challenge to the SB 1818 Implementation Law to correct the political malpractice practiced by the City Council in passing and implementing the ordinance;

2.  Working with the Valley Village Community to fashion practical construction mitigation conditions and (contrary to what the City Attorney said was possible) negotiate (what I believe to be the first and only) affordable housing conditions as part of the tract map entitlement process where the community is empowered to enforce them, not just the City Attorney (a creative approach);

3.  Fighting to try to get AB 283 enforced by the Planning Department so that the zoning laws are in sync with the General Plan, Community Plans, and Specific Plans;

4.  Working with the San Pedro Community against the Pointe Vista project;

5.  Fighting for the Fairfax Community by getting the law changed to rezone neighborhood areas to incorporate height limitations on R-3 parcels so that the character and scale of neighborhoods is maintained;

6.  Working to advise Neighborhood Councils in Studio City, West Los Angeles, and Venice in an effort to try to get the zoning laws properly applied and the Councils better informed about the various options that exist;

7.  I have been a member of the Watts Gang Task Force since October, 2006. So I understand the problems of Watts. I also understand how pro-active, positive community action can bring down the crime rate (it is down 50% year over year in Watts). Included in that effort was persuading the City Attorney’s office to establish a protocol and mechanism whereby kids and adults can get off of gang injunctions and become productive members of their community.

What I have done in these examples is done all the time for the special interests who pay lawyers and lobbyists. But it has rarely been done (if at all) by a public policy advocate who has not been paid by anyone to advocate for a policy and has nothing personal to gain except the self-satisfaction of doing something positive, and leaving behind a positive legacy. This type of advocacy is what we should expect from our elected officials, and is the type of representation that I would continue as City Attorney.

 Isn’t it time that  Los Angeles had a City Attorney that is able to successfully fight for ALL Angelenos, and not just the special ones?

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Fighting for Tenant Protections

In Accomplishments, Uncategorized on February 23, 2009 at 11:59 pm

 The City and the people should be allies not adversaries. There must be less confrontation and more cooperation; less government by litigation, and more government by thoughtful legislation borne out of thorough, reasoned debate.

The City Attorney can make that happen. As City Attorney, I, Noel Weiss, will make that happen.

As a private citizen, I have been committed to doing what I can to make the system work better for the people, help bring the City together, and have our system better reflect its core social values and principles:

For Tenants:

1. Getting the tenant relocation fees raised to $9,040 (from $3,450) for most non-senior and non-disabled tenants, and $17,090 (from $8,550) for seniors, disabled, and families. I fought hard against the Motion by Herb Wesson to dilute these numbers down $2300 for tenants who make above 80% of the AMI, or who had resided in their units for less than 3 years;

 2.  I fought to get the Housing Department to properly tell tenants in conversions of their right (after the reforms) to cancel their lease and collect their relocation money right away (a right no other tenants have);

 3.  Pushed for aggressive enforcement of LAMC 12.95.2 which is supposed to protect tenants in buildings to be converted from being evicted where the vacancy rate is less than 5% (the City Attorney was not enforcing this law);

 4.  Pushed for and procured an extra $40,000 for tenants in a building in Valley Village who were screwed by the speculator;

 5.  Fighting for the evicted tenants at Lincoln Place by filing a $20 Million class action seeking adequate compensation for having been wrongfully given Ellis Act Notices in contravention of a ‘no eviction promise’ made by the developer to procure the land use entitlement rights along with a right to return;

 6.  Fighting for and getting the Planning Department to incorporate specific tenant protection provisions and conditions in tract map entitlement decisions;

 7.  Fighting for the Planning Department to actually enforce the tenants’ rights to a hearing in conversion cases when they don’t get their relocation money;

 8.  Working to get the City Council to adopt affordable housing programs like TOPA (Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act). Other than the Mayor’s Inclusionary Zoning Housing Imitative, TOPA was the only other program included in the Housing Element passed by the City Council in August, 2008 (TOPA has been the law in Washington DC since 1980);

 9.  Fighting hard to get the Housing Department to do a better job for tenants;

 10. Trying to get Neighborhood Councils to adopt the idea of requiring developers to submit a tenant mitigation plan along with their development plan;

 11. Recovering over $900,000 since April, 2007, for tenants who were involuntarily displaced where the City Attorney refused to enforce the tenants’ rights to payment of the relocation fees to which they were entitled (for very little compensation, by the way);

 12. Trying to build a bridge with the Apartment Owners’ Association of Greater Los Angeles by working with members of the Association to understand the difficulties and problems surrounding the Housing Authority’s operation of its Housing Units.

What I have done in these examples is done all the time for the special interests who pay lawyers and lobbyists. But it has rarely been done (if at all) by a public policy advocate who has not been paid by anyone to advocate for a policy and has nothing personal to gain except the self-satisfaction of doing something positive, and leaving behind a positive legacy. This type of advocacy is what we should expect from our elected officials, and is the type of representation that I would continue as City Attorney.

 Isn’t it time that  Los Angeles had a City Attorney that is able to successfully fight for ALL Angelenos, and not just the special ones?

Noel on Protecting the Middle Class

In Accomplishments, City Policy, Land Use, SB 1818 on February 16, 2009 at 10:49 pm

The subtle attack on the middle class in Los Angeles is a main concern of mine, because of the economic impact this inflicts on our city. History shows us that no civilization can sustain a viable economy without a vibrant middle class.

Currently, no local policymaker has stepped forward to try and protect the rights of the middle class. I am committed to doing what I can to make the system work better for the people, help bring the City together, and have our system better reflect its core social values and principles.

So what exactly have I done that is evidence of this promise?

  • I have lobbied the City on behalf of middle class tenants to get various core tenant protections incorporated into the tract map conditions. These conditions were then capable of being enforced by the Planning Dept. and were subsequently incorporated into Planning Dept. policy. This policy change is something that the current City Attorney said couldn’t be done, yet I got it done.
  • I lobbied City Councilmembers about the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) which will be included into the City of Los Angeles Housing Element (2006-2014). (see Council file 08-1933, page 6-33.)
  • I wrote the original motion to raise the tenant relocation fees for tenants who were evicted from buildings that were covered by the rent stabilization ordinance, and then lobbied City Council members to get it passed, as the relocation monies hadn’t been raised since the mid 1980’s.
  •  I am experienced in establishing dialogue between responsible developers and the community they seek to improve.  For example:
    • A developer in Valley Village was able to get his 96-unit project through by incorporating affordable housing promises* into tract map conditions, in such a way that it gave the Community standing to enforce violations of these conditions, under a nuisance theory.   This action, which never had to be invoked, made the community a real partner with the City Attorney and the Council office in ensuring enforcement if necessary.  The net result?
      • The character of the neighborhood was protected;
      • The developer was able to relay the agreed-upon conditions to his vendors before the work began, eliminating misunderstandings; the community knew what to expect, and when, due to regular communication; and
      • The community will benefit from an influx of middle-class incomes when the facility is completed.

The developer even sent his thanks, as the project has moved along quite fluidly. The system can work when a responsible, reasonable, and fair-working partnership is established.

 What I have done in these examples is done all the time for the special interests who pay lawyers and lobbyists. But it has been rarely done (if at all) by a public policy advocate who has not been paid by anyone to advocate for a policy and has nothing personal to gain except the self-satisfaction of doing something positive, and leaving behind a positive legacy. This type of advocacy is what we should expect from our elected officials, and is the type of advocacy that I would continue as City Attorney.

 The current system, where laws exist but are not enforced until they are litigated, must stop. It is inefficient and unacceptable because it violates the social contract between the citizens of this City and their government, and it wastes taxpayers’ dollars. This is what has to be changed. My pledge to you is that as City Attorney, it will change.

 *The ‘affordable housing’ to be created at this location is a mandated (up to) 5% discount for teachers, firemen, and policemen. The project is near North Hollywood High School, creating an incentive for middle-class teachers to eliminate their commute AND be rewarded with a housing discount by the developer. A great situation for many community partners.