The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on August 29, 1977 · Page 79
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · Page 79

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Monday, August 29, 1977
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Cos Atiedes Sixties HARRISON GRAY OTIS. lRK'-Wl? HARRY CHANDLER. 1917. 1MI NORMAN CHANDLER. io.f-i-10 OTIS CHANDLER Publisher and Chief Executive Officer TOM JOHNSON President and Chief Operating Officer WILLIAM F. THOMAS Executive Vice President and Editor Letters to The Times CHARLES C. CHASE. Vice President Operations ROBERT L. FLANNES, Vice President and Assistant to the Publisher JAMES B. GRIDER. Vice President Production ROBERT C. LOBDELL. Vice President and General Counsel DONALD S. MAXWELL. Vice President and Controller VANCE L. STICKELL. Vice President-Sales JAMES BASSETT. Associate Editor ANTHONY-DAY. Editor of the Editorial Pa)jcs FRANK P. HAVEN. Manage Editor JEAN SHARLEY TAYLOR. Associate Editor HI MONDAY MORNING, AUGUST 29, 1977 It's Working Partly California has made great progress, but has not yet won the battle to rid itself of discrimination in mortgage lending. State savings-and-loan regulations against the practice called redlining have been in force for more than a year. The California Department of Savings and Loan set up a process of disclosures, hearings and reviews to ensure that no neighborhood is unfairly or arbitrarily denied the capital it needs to stay healthy and avoid decay. The process is working. Thanks to compliance and cooperation from some industry leaders, loan money is getting to areas that had lacked it. The same process needs to be expanded to cover all lending, not just loans by state-chartered savings-and-loan associations. A bill to achieve that end now faces its last chance to clear the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. It was defeated last week on a close vote, and is up for reconsideration in the next few days. The bill has shortcomings that need to be fixed before final legislative action, but it deserves committee approval. The measure is Senate Bill 7, by Sen. Nate Holden (D-Los Angeles). Like the administrative savings-and-loan regulations it would supplant, SB 7 declares that it is illegal to deny a mortgage loan strictly on the basis of location. The bill would set up machinery to judge disputes between lenders and spurned loan applicants, and to decide whether a loan was reviewed on its merits or just summarily refused because of neighborhood. Holden's measure would cover banks, insurance companies and other lenders as well as savings and loans. It attempts to extend its reach to federally chartered lenders, too; that aspect may have to be fought out in court. As amended on its way through the Legislature, Holden's bill would affect loans to homeowners and on owner-occupied apartment houses of up to four units, but not on bigger properties. Large apartment complexes are not covered because lenders fear abuse of the statute by speculators. We think the fears do not justify denying rental housing the same kind of coverage as individual homes. Another part of Holden's bill we do not like: It would empower the state, after completing the review process on a spurned loan application, to order the lender to make the specific loan. That would be a new state power, and an excessive one. The Brown Administration's antiredlining regulations have worked indirectly. Appeal boards cannot order a loan to be made, but savings-and-loan executives know that few moves can be made without permission from state supervisors. That knowledge, and the threats of lawsuits and publicity, predispose lenders to cooperate with the boards. The record has been impressive; the state should go no further here. These flaws need correction, but they cannot be fixed unless the Ways and Means Committee allows the Holden bill to survive. The measure lost narrowly last week because some committee members who want new legislation found the bill too weak. We urge these members to reconsider when the. second vote is called. Reagan: Appearances Are Deceiving By announcing that he will work for Senate rejection of the new Panama Canal treaties, Ronald Reagan endeared himself to the right-wing Republicans who are expected to dominate the GOP presidential nominating convention in 1980. If the Senate does vote against ratification, however, we think the former governor will quickly discover that his decision was bad for him, his party and his country. Reagan opposed a new canaT treaty in his Republican primary challenges to President Ford last year. There was a lingering hope that he might be persuaded to change his mind. Within hours after receiving a detailed briefing from the new Administration's canal negotiators Thursday, though, he issued a call for rejection of the agreements that will be signed Sept. 7. On the surface, it would appear that the Californi-an has seized the winning side of a good issue. Polls indicate that three of every four Americans are against handing over the canal to Panama, and mail is running heavily against the new treaties both at the White House and on Capitol Hill. We think the appearances are deceiving. Most Americans still are not familiar with the terms of the proposed new arrangement. Most of what they have heard is the charge by opponents that the treaties constitute a "giveaway"; they have the impression that the United States is running from the canal with its tail between its legs. Public attitudes will shift, we believe, as people learn that this is not the case. Although legal jurisdiction over the Canal Zone' would pass to Panama within three years, the United States would retain responsibility for operation, and maintenance until the year 2000. Panamanian personnel would take over more and. more jobs during the time, but an American would, head the body running the canal until 1990, at. which time a Panamanian would move into the top. job. The governing board would have an American majority for the life of the treaty. Under terms of a separate agreement, the United. States would maintain the right to defend the canal even after the turn of the century in fact, in perpetuity. Reagan's suggestion that U.S. acceptance of the treaties would be interpreted as weakness by other nations, that it would somehow invite a Communist takeover in Panama, is precisely the opposite of the truth. The new treaties are enthusiastically supported by the Latin American countries with the greatest economic interest in the canal. As for a threat from the left, that threat will be far more serious if the treaties are not ratified. Businessmen, diplomats and others familiar with the situation in Panama think that rejection of the agreements would set off bloody and possibly large-scale violence in Panama with peril to the security of the canal and a wave of anti-U.S. agitation throughout Latin America. Were that to happen, it would be tragic for the country, and do little good for the political careers of those who blocked the treaty. The Gospel According to St. Computer One of our colleagues recently got a form letter from the San Diego traffic court, threatening him with all sorts of dire consequences if he did not pay an overdue parking fine. A copy of the ticket was enclosed, and it had the correct license and correct description of his car. But our associate had not been in San Diego on the day the citation was issued. In fact, he had not been in San Diego for more than two years. As an editorialist would, he wrote a calm, reasonable letter to the court, protesting his innocence and swearing to appeal the unjust prosecution all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary. A day or two later, he got another form letter from the court, advising him of the dismissal of the charge. But Roselia C. Jungers who lives, coincidental -ly, in a suburb of San Diego, Spring Valley had a rather different experience with the Oakland parking violations bureau. A meter maid in that city wrote her a ticket for illegal parking on the same day and at the same time that she was driving her son around his paper route in Spring Valley, 500 or more miles to the south. Mrs. Jungers telephoned a clerk in the bureau, and said that in all her 38 years she had never been-in the city of Oakland, but he didn't believe her. A couple of days later, she got one of those threatening letters she must either appear personally in Oakland to contest the citation, or pay the $8 fine. If she did neither, a warrant would be issued for her arrest. Mrs. Jungers was furious: "I'll fight. I'll sue for false arrest if they try to take me away." And she wrote President Carter, Gov. Brown, and every other politician she could think of, asking them to intervene. One did Assemblyman Wadie P. Deddeh (D-Chula Vista). He got in touch with the supervisor of the parking bureau, and that worthy agreed to tear up Mrs. Jungers' ticket. There is a simple explanation for such foulups. A clerk teletypes the letters and numbers on the plate of an offending car to the Department of Motor Vehicles in Sacramento to determine its ownership. But the clerk can misread the traffic officer's writing on the. ticket, or inadvertently hit the wrong key. The computer, of course, spews out the wrong name. The Oakland traffic bureau knows that, and should have taken Mrs. Jungers at her word. That is the policy of the Los Angeles traffic court in cases where there is a probability of error and, judging from our colleague's experience, that is also the policy in San Diego. Oakland also should concede that computer evidence is not infallible. Blindness and Justice State Sen. Alex P. Garcia (D-Los Angeles) is the author of legislation, now on the governor's desk, that would permit blind people to serve on juries. We believe they should have that right. Present law automatically disqualifies the blind from jury duty. Garcia's SB 152 would remove that prohibition, but would add the loss of sight as one of the grounds on which an attorney could challenge a prospective juror for cause. There are a number of blind attorneys in trial practice in this state. Donald Wilkinson, a blind judge, sat with distinction in both the Municipal and Superior Courts of Humboldt County for 20 years. Obviously, there are cases involving visual evidence in which blind jurors would be at a disadvantage. But there are other cases in which they could serve competently. We urge Gov. Brown to sign SB 152. Rent Controls for Los Angeles? Few issues, if any, elicit such an emotional response as the discussion of rent regulations. To landlords, rent regulations conjure up the horror of New York City's disastrous 20-year experiment with rent control. To the tenant, regulation of rents promises a simple solution to those who cannot absorb the sharp rent increases which are eating into their food bills. What both sides do agree upon, however, is the fact that a serious housing shortage does exist, with over 97 of the apartment units city-wide presently occupied. As the demand for rental housing exceeds supply, and speculative sales of apartment buildings soar, many (though certainly not all) landlords are taking advantage of favorable market conditions by raising their rents exorbitantly 20, 30, 40, 50 rent increases, sometimes twice and three times a year, are not uncommon. This leaves many tenants, especially senior citizens on fixed incomes, the bitter choice of cutting back further on an already sparse life-style or moving from their homes. Yet in a market of decreasing supply and sharply escalating rents, the maxim that "if you don't like the prices shop elsewhere" is no longer valid. The people have nowhere to go. The Times editorial (Aug. 16), "Is Rent Control the Answer?" acknowledged the fact that rent gouging exists, yet criticized the city's attempt to work toward responsible rent reforms. I believe the city has both a moral and legal obligation to explore alternatives to the New York style of rent control; to search for reforms that would better balance the tenant's housing needs with the landlord's economic interests. The incidence of rent gouging as a direct outgrowth of the housing shortage is a temporary problem requiring a temporary solution. Any proposal developed should provide for the immediate deregulation of rents when the city's rental housing vacancy rate reaches 5 or above. Responsible rent reforms, however, can and should be designed to: guarantee the landlord a reasonable rate of return; permit rent increases to recover escalating increases in operating expenses, such as taxes, utilities, maintenance and capital expenditures; provide landlords and tenants a forum to facilitate the speedy adjudication of complaints through creation of a Landlord-Tenant Mediation Court; and exempt new construction from rent regulations, thus encouraging more construction of low-and-moderate income housing as a long-term solution to the current housing crisis. This type of rent-gouging law will not place responsibility on the landlord for the tenant's inability to pay even reasonable rents. The solution to that problem must be found elsewhere, such as significant increases in federal rent subsidies and new construction incentives. What a rent-reform law can do, however, is to serve as a significant tool for relieving the inequities in the current system of determining rents. It will provide honest landlords with the parameters in which to judge what constitutes a reasonable rent and a fair rate of return, penalizing only those landlords who "rent profiteer" by making exorbitant profits at the expense of their tenants. Exploration of these issues requires the cooperation of the media, the community and the real estate industry. Continual reference to the failures in other cities will not do. There are other alternatives that can bring about responsible reforms. It is time for the industry to participate in the generation of new ideas and the formulation of constructive rent reform policies. The public welfare demands it. JOELWACHS President Pro Tern Los Angeles City Council We wholeheartedly agree with your editorial's conclusion that rent control will not reduce current housing problems. Both the private and public sector must undertake efforts to increase our housing supply with special attention to the needs of senior adults and low-income families. This positive approach will provide an answer to our housing problems. Rent control would just make matters worse. TED ELLSWORTH Chairman, Coalition for Housing Los Angeles I am neither for nor against rent control, but something needs to be done. I am (again) in the process of apartment hunting. Naturally, a vacant apartment is a gold mine for the landlord. The new rental fee seems, to jump $25 to $50 for new renters. The reason? "Taxes are just terrible. My taxes are going up . . . I'm hardly making a profit" I am tired of hearing the landlord's sob story. They even have the nerve to tell you the new carpet and paint job just about broke them something they know they have to do anyway. What really bothers me is that rather than fight the system and find out why their taxes are going up (the government is not hurting so much that they need to increase our taxes), they sort of capitulate and just go along with uping the rent. What's really sad is that within the decade most of us who cannot afford houses or apartments will probably end up The Times wekemos expressions at all vim tram nadirs. Letters should b ktpt at brief a peulbla and art subject la condensation Thar mutt Include slgnatura, valid mailing address and falaphana num. bar, if any. Psoudenyms and Initials will nat ba mad. Baceuse of the valuma at mall received, unpublished Individual laftars cannef ba acknowledged. Sand la: UTTIM TO THE EDITOR, LOS ANGELES TIMES, TIM1S MIRROR S9UARE. LOS AliSELM, Ok MSJ with communal living. Doesn't this lead to socialism? KATHER1NE P. McFARLIN Los Angeles Your editorial on rent control was right to the point. Basically, rent control should be turned down because it is a cruel deceiver. It seems to promise a better life to the renter in the form of an assured holding-of-the line on rent and rent conditions. Actually, the renter is one of the prime victims of rent control. The real answer to his problem is increased supply of rent availabilities. But rent control would turn off new supply by turning off new investment. Further, by discouraging proper maintenance it would undermine the quality of housing for tenants. And finally it tends, as shown by New York where there are 45,000 abandoned apartment buildings because rent control eroded the profits of investors, to drive the landlord out of business altogether. Thus, it not only discourages new supply, but it also eats into existing supply of housing. How can that help the renter? REUBEN E.MULLINS Los Angeles Let us all hope that some kind of rent control is enacted for California, especially Los Angeles County! I'm tired of being at the mercy of a money-hungry landlord who wants to get the most rent for as little as possible put back into an apartment building. I don't feel rent controls would lead to a deterioration of property or abandonment A rent-freeze would not solve our problems, but an intelligent plan of rent control would. I suggest owners be required to submit verification of why an increase is warranted. Were taxes 30 higher than last year? Were repairs on the building extensive? These are justifiable reasons to increase rents, not just because the owners want to make more of a profit. In my own case I know for sure that the taxes on the apartment building I live in have remained very stable the last 3 years and no major repairs have been made. Yet, rents are up $80 from 3 years ago. And, as each notice of rent increase is given, the excuse of increased taxes is used. Actually, what is happening is that other apartment buildings that our landlord owns in other cities have had their taxes increased and we get to foot the bill! This is highly unfair! If landlords were required to submit verification of rent' increases, unfair practices such as these would cease and rents would be stabilized. We can't seem to stop the spiraling costs of houses, but maybe we can halt the spiraling cost of rents. MICKEY HARTUNG Lomita The news about renters demanding a rent freeze makes me wonder if those who are asking the City Council to give them this sacred-cow status have any notion that the homeowner has no rent freeze. Everything that constitutes rent for the homeowner continues to increase in price taxes, plumbers' bills and other repair costs, water bills, maintenance, insurance, replacement of worn-out roofs, carpets, appliances. Is there any chance the City Council will freeze all these expenses for us? BARBARA THOM Woodland Hills v All the discussions and arguments of the increasing rental problems have not touched the real reason for the rental raises. Mr. S, the owner of a 30-apartment building with a total monthly rental of $4,500, gives all his tenants notice that due to increased costs, etc. he is very unhappy to raise their rents to $200 a month. Mr. S now sells the building to Mr. T, on the basis of the $6,000 monthly income. After about two months, Mr. T, with great regret, gives his tenants notice that due to increased expenses, he must raise their rent to $250 a month. He in turn sells it to Mr. U on the $7,500 monthly income. And so on, and so on. Quite often these are yo-yo sales, with the names of the purchasers covered by corporation names, so that the tenants do not know who the new owners are, or that the new owners are the old owners once or twice removed. The only example I can give that would be similar is that if a market bought a shipment of eggs at 50 cents a dozen. Then it sold them to another market at 60 cents a dozen. Then it bought them back from the second for 70 cents a dozen. And then the first market ran a big sale, weeping that it was selling them for only 75 cents a dozen, making only a puny nickel on a dozen, which did not even come close to cover the cost of operating the store. So let us not weep too much for the poor landlord. Maybe they are losing money, but somehow they have found enough to keep a very active lobby going in Sacramento. It is all giving me a headache and a pain in the pocketbook. BERNARD SANOW Los Angeles FCC Regulation of TV Industry The two articles (Aug. 15) by Robert Scheer on the Federal Communications Commission require our most generous congratulations. In fact, your entire series on the television industry had the mark of excellence. Our congratulations to The Times, which had the courage to permit Scheer to speak out. As an integral part of the TV industry, the Screen Actors Guild has from time to time been an outspoken critic in many of the same areas. Our concern regards the FCC and its domination by the industry it is charged to regulate. The quality of the appointments, its outright bias and its sad performance have been an American blight for years. That these problems surface publicly in a well-researched article in a paper with the circulation of The Times is most constructive. CHESTER L.MIGDEN National Executive Secretary Screen Actors Guild Hollywood I wish to congratulate The Times and Scheer for the extraordinary investigative report on the FCC. For many years it has been a major concern of Screen Actors Guild. Technically, the airwaves belong to the American people. In fact, they are controlled by three networks for ever greater profits. This year the three networks combined earned net profit of $5.4 million a day. I also wish to congratulate you on your reportage on the Commission on Civil Rights. It has been an enormous problem for the women and minorities of the guild. The current statistics of the women's conference committee of the guild show 18 of days worked in television were worked by women. The reverse figure, of course, is that male actors accounted for 82 of the days worked. In motion pictures, the figure is slightly higher and 25 of the roles were played by women. I wish to note that the studios and producers have been most sympathetic and helpful with our problem. To date, there has been no response to Screen Actors Guild from the networks regarding our request to meet with them to discuss this problem. NORMA CONNOLLY Co-chair, National Women's Conference Committee Screen Actors Guild Hollywood Scheer's articles on the FCC were a welcome and inspiring exception to the rule that the pressing need for media reform goes unreported and uninvestigated by the nation's news gatherers. There may be widespread and earnest support for media reform in this country, but the tacit (if not expressed) conspiracy among the nation's three major broadcasters to dummy up on the whole issue allows it to slip by. Harper's Magazine, in its July issue, published an article by Kevin Phillips, who argued that we should break the large media trusts into smaller units, but the issue, of course, has never been covered by any of those trusts themselves. No wonder nothing has ever been done, and no wonder that the FCC, as Scheer points out, is little more than a government-funded lobby and training camp for the networks that it is entrusted to regulate! Scheer and Phillips both allude to & the power of the media to dispatch public careers at will, even and especially at the very top and no wonder nothing has ever been done! CHARLES R. GARDNER Las Vegas, Nev. Thank you very much for printing the article on the FCC, as well as the article on the hiring practices of TV and radio stations. Their front-page placement was well-deserved, since such stories will never see the light of day in any other medium. Scheer should be congratulated for his excellent investigative reporting; your paper could use more of this type of story. As always, the left-hand column of the front page has been probably the most relevant. Please continue this tradition. PAUL E. HOFFMAN Santa Monica Uotf Slngfles (Ernes Dally Faundad Dae 4 ltal BUSINESS AND EDITORIAL OFFICES Tlmas Mirror Square Las Angeles, Callfenila Men Phono (213) 4ZS-3345 Classified Advancing (211) 429-4411 Display Advarllslng (211) 429-3241 ORANGE COUNTY OFFICES Matt Goreo, Editor I37S Sunflower Ave, Casta Mas. Phone (714) 50-5151 DOMESTIC BUREAUS Washlngtan (1700 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.), Jack Nelson, bureau chlet. Sacraments (925 L St.), Tom Goft. bureau chief. San Francisco (S25 Fox Plata), William Endlcutt. (Advertising Office: 100 California St. Suite llsU) Atlanta 1239 Peachtreo SI. Suite 913), Jell Pr ugh. Chkage (435 N. Michigan Ave.). Bryce Nelson. (Advertising Office: SOO N. Michigan Ave.) New Ver. (220 E. 42nd St.), John Goldman. (Advertising Office: 711 Third Ave.) Houston (912 Chronicle Building), Nicholas C. Chrlss. FOREIGN BUREAUS Lenden (a Bouverle St. London EC 4YBB), William Tuohy. Paris (73 Ave. des Chomps Elysees), Don Cook. Bann (Hems Allee 2-10), Murray Seeger. 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