There were plenty of reasons that the proposed creation of a rental registry was bad news for Glendale, the third largest city in Los Angeles County. It was not only unnecessary, it was going to be costly, cumbersome, and, most alarming, it would expose personal data to public scrutiny. The Glendale Association of REALTORS® understood all the complexities of the threat, and why it was so important that the measure be defeated. Using multiple resources from the REALTOR® Party, they were able to ensure that it was.
Government Affairs Director Greg Astorian explains that the state of California, which has recently passed a raft of laws addressing its serious housing issues, has declined to pass legislation that would allow for rental registries two separate times. “The concept had continually failed at the state level for very good reason: it is a fundamentally bad bill. There was not an iota of benefit for either tenants or housing providers.” The fact that the personal information of landlords and tenants alike to be collected in the database would be available to anyone through the Freedom of Information Act was especially problematic, he notes. It was also critical that the measure be defeated in Glendale, he adds, because neighboring municipalities were watching closely and considering putting similar rent registry legislation on their upcoming agendas.
The REALTORS® formed a coalition with two local apartment associations and the Chamber of Commerce, and Astorian reached out to the REALTOR® Party for help, securing both a Consumer Advocacy Grant and an Issues Mobilization Grant, which he says were processed with impressive dispatch by their respective committees at NAR. “Thanks to their quick action on our applications, we were at the table – not on the menu!”
He supplied the REALTOR® Party team with nine key objections to the rental registry legislation, which they distilled into a succinct and compelling message for the consumer-and member-facing campaigns: a rental registry would reveal too much information, cost too much money, and produce too much red tape. The resulting campaign of targeted emails, texts, patch-through calls, and Calls For Action, as well a dedicated public-facing website, allowed Glendale residents to voice their opinion directly to their local lawmakers. Between these channels and the communication and advocacy at Council meetings and in Astorian’s personal meetings with Council members, he estimates that each one received about 877 communiqués in opposition to the rental registry.
On the day of the hearing, at least fifty REALTORS® and coalition members were prepared to testify against the proposal, although the mayor only allowed time for thirty to speak. In view of the overwhelming public opposition, rather than progress to a simple “Note and File” motion, one Council Member boldly motioned to vote against the registry once and for all. The resulting “Nay” was an unequivocal denunciation of the concept, and one that Glendale’s neighboring jurisdictions can’t ignore as they address their own housing issues.
Astorian notes that despite the adversarial position the REALTORS® were forced to take on this issue, it gave them the opportunity to offer the City Council the benefit of their professional expertise in tracking market trends and other data. “Just as our members are the best source of information for their clients, we want to be the go-to source of information for our elected officials. We are data-driven and passionate advocates for affordable housing, and we are prepared to support sensible housing policies that come out of our City Council. We are so grateful to have NAR’s programs to help us to do that – they are already having a profound impact on our association!”
To learn more about how the Glendale Association of REALTORS® is safeguarding privacy and property rights in Los Angeles County, contact Government Affairs Director Greg Astorian at firstname.lastname@example.org or 818.807.7428.