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A Tribute to Nancy Ahlswede

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As I stepped into my new office in September of 2013, I began to look around the office to get a sense of who was here before. It was a surreal feeling to walk among binders and binders filled with memos, emails and past magazines that were once under the authority of someone I knew had the hearts of this membership. After a few days of getting to know the staff and talking with some of the board members it suddenly dawned on me that I was not alone in this process. I was about to walk into the footsteps of a legend in the multifamily industry.

As the months went by and I began to meet more and more people, the comments started with this statement, “Oh, you are the new Nancy”. But I knew immediately that there was more to this Association than just being the “new Nancy.” Nancy left a legacy that will never be matched. She was a force to be reckoned with. It was clear that her devotion to this industry went beyond her position as Executive Director—it was her passion. When I finally met Nancy, we talked for close to two hours and when I left that meeting with her, I knew that I could always go to her to ask questions and get advice. As with anything in life, when the opportunity is not there any longer you always wish you had more time to ask just one more question or learn just one more tidbit that will help your organization.

Over the next few pages it is only fitting that we share some thoughts that come directly from those who loved and admired her the most. So, in her memory, we share these tributes.

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Ron Kingston was honored to give the eulogy at Nancy’s funeral. Here are a few excerpts from the eulogy:

Nancy—

Was a master collaborator who was result-driven. People from all walks of life would conclude that the solution that was reached when Nancy was involved in negotiations of an issue was always the best possible.

Had organizational skills that assured success. Just a few years ago, she was hospitalized during the annual trade show. That did not interfere with making the trade show extremely successful. This skill was passed on to her daughter, Katherine.

At times, I wondered if they should have considered installing a hide a bed or futon in the office due to the number of hours they would work.

Was the eternal optimist. Just three weeks ago she and I talked about her plans for her 70th birthday party which would be on a boat in the Long Beach harbor. And during that same conversation she was planning on how she would resume being with her family, Larry, Katherine, Chip, Jennifer and the three grandchildren—Cooper (who loves video games), Donovan (who loves sports such as flag football) and Nixon (who was just baptized).

Has a legacy that can never be forgotten. Each one of us should always remember that she would push forward during extremely difficult and challenging times.

Michael D. Pintek, Board Emeritus
We in the legal profession would refer to Nancy as a “Force Majeure” (a superior or irresistible force). The small acorn that was the Association 28 years ago, through the work and efforts of the officers, board of directors and membership, who were the roots, under the guidance, administration and dedication of Nancy, who was the lignin that held it all together, has grown into a mighty oak tree. Nancy’s star shined bright on all of us while enriching our lives and illuminating the path in front of us.

Bob Luskin
I had the pleasure of working with Nancy for over 20 years. Nancy wan an amazing person. She has made the Apartment Association what it is today. Nancy will be missed.

Allen & Mary Ann Wood
Nancy lives on in our hearts and memories. Not only as a great lady who led the Apartment Association for so many years, but also as a very dear friend.

Sharon Coughlin
Nancy was definitely destined to be a leader of this organization that so generously devotes their time and energy in fighting for the rights of people in the rental housing industry both for owners as well as for tenants. Her amazing knowledge provided anyone interested in seeking a career in property management the understanding of how great it truly is to SERVE people. I was always amazed by her as a woman, a great mother and most of all a great leader to be inspired by.

Pat Thornton
I was shocked and saddened by this news. Brian and I always felt so welcome at the monthly meetings. She always had a ready smile and enthusiasm and the ability to spread hope and joy!

Grace Velazquez, GGB Properties, Inc.
Despite being a “new-comer” to the industry, Nancy took the time to get to know me and showed genuine care. Nancy’s passion was contagious and I hope that her legacy will live on.

Rebecca Moffett, A Better Property Management, and Past Board President, and Board Emeritus
Nancy was dedicated to landlords and their property rights and she always put them first. She was smart, well known, connected and knew how to work a crowd or a council meeting. She had intuitive gifts that were unparalleled with anyone I have ever known. She had great command of her job, of legislative bills and happenings, of other Asso ciations’ trials and tribulations, etc. Nancy knew everyone, never forgot a name and was a brilliant strategist. When Nancy spoke, you listened. She made sure everyone was well informed on all the issues and she listened to people to make sure that the board members could arrive at a consensus on most issues. She held everyone to a high standard which everyone wanted to meet and it was easy as we followed the lead of Nancy and the high bar she set for herself. She praised everyone on their good deeds, thanked volunteers with certificates and personalized plaques and paperweights. No matter what you volunteered for, you were acknowledged in many ways.

Sandra Feliciano, Broker
She was the reason I attended the CAM courses and received my designation. I appreciate all that she did for our industry. She will truly be missed.

Wendy Henning
What a “gal”...she made me feel like a long-time friend. I will miss her personality and gracious nature.

Virginia (Ginny) Ball
I so appreciate Nancy’s help in coming to Whittier on many evenings to help me start the Whittier Apartment Association. It is still going strong, but it is with her help that we got it “off the ground!”

Alejandra Kostuch
Nancy, the lady that always had answers no matter what it was about.

Coy Herring, Past President and Director Emeritus Through Nancy’s tireless and brilliant leadership we endured, survived and flourished. Through her abundant friendship we all were rewarded.

John & “Bub” Pratt, Past
Board President (1993-1994) I remember when the Board asked her to be Executive Officer. I believe that was 1991 when Phil Dauk was President of the Board and I was Vice President. Nancy was a tremendous help to our Association. She wore many hats for us as editor of the magazine, legislative advocate and executive officer. I don’t know how she did it all. Not to mention herding 20 or so cats (Board of Directors). She is certainly missed by all. Our sympathy to Larry and the family.

Evelyn Arnold
What a loss to our industry and to the world! Nancy was one of a kind who was always fighting for the rights of the small apartment owners and others. May she rest in peace.

Kelly Geonetta,
R.E.M.S., Inc. To all the people that she touched with her smile. To her family and friends. Thank you.

Gina Trinidad
Thank you Nancy for all of what you have done and for all the times you fought for us. You will be remembered and prayed for.


This has been a wonderful 28 years journey with you. It has been said that a person who is passionate about what they do, never works a day in his/her life. I thank you for the opportunity to be one of those people.”
Nancy Ahlswede, 2012

When you wake up tomorrow and each day following think of what you learned from Nancy. Think of what you will do that she taught you that you will continue to do. Let her inspire us to do better. Let her energy, ability, and forward movement not wane.

Larry would often times say “One of the things that I loved about Nancy was that she was the smartest woman that I ever knew.” – Ron Kingston

Carrying the Message

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Mark your calendars and make your travel arrangements for the 2017 NAA Capitol Conference and Lobby Day which will take place March 7 and 8 in Washington, D.C. The Capitol Conference will start after lunch on March 7 with an issues orientation and advocacy training session. We will train you to be an effective advocate for the apartment industry through this high-impact programming, including a presentation by presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin, our keynote speaker. Both the House and Senate will be in session on Lobby Day, giving everyone an opportunity to connect with their members of Congress. Remember, NAA’s goal is to reach all 535 Congressional offices—that’s 435 Representatives and 100 Senators. There are also more than 50 new members in the 115th Congress making this Lobby Day especially important.

In 2016 NAA focused on three issues during the Capitol Conference—mitigating “drive-by” Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuits, streamlining the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program and opening up more private sector options for flood insurance. We scored a victory on Section 8 vouchers with passage of the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act that eliminated much of the bureaucracy around the inspections process.

We were not as successful on the other two issues though our preferred legislation on those topics advanced a great way towards passage. The issues remain critical today so we are reprising our focus on ADA lawsuits and flood insurance at the 2017 Capitol Conference and Lobby Day. The effort on flood insurance has added importance this year as the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will expire in September. Without the NFIP apartment owners and operators would have few, costprohibitive options for flood insurance. This program must be extended and improved.

Added to the list of issues for the 2017 Capitol Conference is tax reform. Back when we all thought Hilary Clinton would be the next President of the United States, the odds of tax reform actually happening were low. There was simply too wide of a gulf between Secretary Clinton and the GOP. Those odds are now flipped on their head. Reform of the tax code was a hot topic during the campaign and President-elect Trump’s team has stated it is a “200-day” priority after the repeal and/or replacement of the Affordable Care Act.

Meanwhile, House Republicans have crafted a proposal they call a “blueprint” for tax reform which suggests some fairly radical changes to the code, including areas impacting real estate. Their goals are generally the same or similar to those of the President-elect but it’s the details that matter. That will be the first level of negotiation.

A critical decision the majority powers must make is what kind of bill they want to pass – the preferred Republican package or a negotiated bill that includes Democratic priorities. Recently, the concept of durability has come up a lot in this context.

Specifically, according to advisors close the President-elect, Congress should take a bipartisan approach to tax reform (like was done in 1986) so that whatever bill is passed survives beyond the GOP majority. The obvious comparison is to the Affordable Care Act—a bill passed on party lines without a single GOP vote that now is almost certain to be repealed or significantly weakened. The President-elect wants a legacy which demands a bipartisan approach.

No matter what route tax reform takes, the apartment industry will have to be involved. Anyone who was in the industry when the Tax Act of 1986 was passed will remember how significant – positive and negative—this legislation was for commercial real estate. This new round of reform is shaping up to be potentially as significant with a lot of specific implications for our industry. Literally everyone who develops, owns or manages apartments or who works for a company that does will be impacted by tax reform. As such, everyone needs to be involved. The table is being set and it’s up to you if you want to be a guest or a main course.

Your lives are very busy and it can be extremely challenging to cram one more task onto an already overflowing list. The good news is that NAA now makes it easy to do your part for the industry. Our new Advocacy365 App puts Congress in the palm of your hand. It’s your year-round indispensable tool that’s packed with resources to keep your finger on the legislative pulse of the apartment industry. The app’s key elements include talking points and fact sheets on the issues, the ability to directly communicate with your legislators, Congressional directories, year-round mobile action alerts sent directly to you and much more. Download the app now and take apartment advocacy with you wherever you go.

Great advocacy means carrying the message to your elected officials all year long. But, the NAA Capitol Conference and Lobby Day is the once-a-year opportunity for our advocates in Washington, D.C., to show the Congress the power of the industry. Go to the NAA website (www.naahq.org) to register and talk with your local affiliated association about being part of the effort. I know you care about the future of your industry, your business and your bottom line and want to be part of our effort to make the voice of the apartment industry heard.

May 2018

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I have to begin by thanking all of the Sponsors for participating in our 12th Annual Golf Classic. As usual, it was a lot of fun and it is also important to note that while we were all enjoying a great day on the course, you were also supporting our charity, Interval House. Special thanks to Optimum Seismic for stepping in as our Title Sponsor.

This last month has proven to be all about the Long Beach rent control ordinance, and along with that issue came many questions. I will share two frequent questions with you. The first question concerns selling your properties. While this is ultimately a personnel decision, I think part of the answer should consider just how long you intend to be in the multifamily industry. Long Beach is undergoing a big change with lots of new development, units and restructuring of old buildings to new destination sites. It bears repeating that location matters and that investing in the future will always be cyclical.

My other observation is that this new development will bring in new businesses with employees who also need housing. Change is not easy, but it is going to happen whether you want it or not. The question becomes how much change is too much?

How quickly do you want to act, and might you be acting too quickly? I would suggest that collaboration and thoughtful discussion would better serve what is being proposed. I know just how hard you all work and how much empathy and passion you have for your tenants. I hear it every day, and as I have said to many of you when you ask me the tough questions—like what should I do?—take a very deep breath and hope the crystal ball of the future works its magic.

I believe that Long Beach is going to thrive, regardless of the outcome. This is a community with deep roots, and I choose to be optimistic in order to create a more positive outcome for all involved in spite of those who have chosen not to communicate. I believe I said it last month, but Private Property Rights are called that for a reason.

In other news, I hope we will be seeing you at the next Lunch With Southern Cities on May 8 at The Grand, and make sure you mark your calendar to attend NAA’s Apartmentalize Conference in San Diego in June—it will be here before you know it. There is education galore to choose from, and it is a great way to educate your staff. It was here five years ago, and this year is slated to be even better than the last time around. There are still a few spots left as a volunteer, and you get 50 percent off the cost of the conference when you choose to volunteer. It is great fun and you get to talk to people from all over the country. Look to The Beacon e-newsletter for the link; the hotels are filling fast!

Memorial Day

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As the month of April wound down and we put another Golf Tournament and Sacramento Legislative Day behind us, the month of May is a great follow-up that puts politics aside and offers a time of celebration.

May is the last full month of classes for grade school and most college students, prompting eagerness and excitement for their upcoming summer freedom. It also is a time for families to honor the person who literally brought them into this world as we celebrate Mother’s Day.

On another note, because of Memorial Day, May is a month that can bring feelings of heartbreak and sadness for some. But it also shows our unbridled patriotism by honoring the source of the liberties and freedoms we are entitled to just for being Americans — our countrymen and women who have laid down their lives and paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

Even though my father made it back from Vietnam, many of his friends did not, so in that way, May is a month I get to honor both my mother and father each year (as we probably should each day), and I dedicate this month’s article to my father, introduced below by a journalist from a West Michigan newspaper article from 1969, and those who served alongside him who did not make it back home:

“Marine L. Cpl. Larry W. Pollack [Sr.], serving with the First Marine Aircraft Wing in Vietnam. In addition to attacking enemy personnel and installations, wing aircraft airlift troops to battle zones, evacuate wounded, fly resupply missions, and provide close air support for U.S. Marines and allied ground forces engaged in combat operations.”

As you head to the grill and cooler this Memorial Day, celebrating our freedom with your friends and family, you can share some less known Memorial Day facts that I have gathered from multiple sources:

  • Memorial Day is sometimes confused with Veterans Day. However, Veterans Day honors all United States military veterans, while Memorial Day honors the soldiers who died while serving.
  • The Grand Army of the Republic was created by the Union Army to honor their dead. After World War I the American Legion took over their duties.
  • Congress passed a law in 2000 that requires all Americans to stop what they are doing at 3pm on Memorial Day to remember and to honor those who have died serving the United States. President Clinton signed this action.
  • The flag is supposed to be flown at half-mast until noon, and then raised to full mast until sunset on Memorial Day.
  • The tradition of wearing red poppies on Memorial Day originated from John McCrae’s 1915 poem In Flanders Fields. In Canada they wear red poppies to honor their soldiers on Remembrance Day in November each year.
  • Although not as popular today, one tradition was to eat a picnic meal while sitting on the ground at a cemetery. There are still some people in the rural areas of the South that continue to practice this tradition.
  • It’s common for volunteers to place the American flag on graves in the national cemeteries, and is also a popular day for people to visit cemeteries to honor those who have died while serving.
  • It’s estimated that approximately 32 million people travel by car over Memorial Day weekend.
  • Memorial Day marks the beginning of the summer vacation season while Labor Day marks the end.
  • In some areas of the rural South, they hold annual Decoration Days around this time for certain cemeteries, often in the mountains.
  • In 1966, President Johnson named Waterloo, New York, as the original place of Memorial Day.
  • There were more American lives lost during the Civil War than the two World Wars combined. Approximately 620,000 died during the Civil War while approximately 116,516 died in World War I and approximately 405,399 died in World War II.
  • There are more than 300,000 fallen soldiers buried at Arlington Cemetery. On average, there are 28 burials there each day.


Be safe and enjoy your Memorial Day holiday, but remember the many fallen servicemembers who gave their lives for your freedom.

California Housing Crisis: Part 1

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Editor’s Note: This is Part 1 of a three-part article. Part 2 will appear in the June Apartment Journal.

Early in 2018, California lawmakers tried but failed to repeal the State’s Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act—the law that restricts the ability of local governments to establish extreme forms of rent control. Had the repeal effort been successful, local governments would have had the authority to restrict rents on single-family homes, condominiums, and all newly constructed housing units. Repeal would also have brought back vacancy control—the prohibition on rent increases when a housing unit becomes vacant.

While repeal would have provided protections for tenants against rent increases in the short term, the long-term effects would have devastated the State’s housing supply as extreme forms of rent control make owning and developing units unprofitable and unmanageable. Moreover, rent control often leads to severe gentrification in which higher income earners eventually push low-income individuals and families out of their rent controlled units.

The long-term negative impact of extreme forms of rent control on tenants and on property owners and managers was precisely the reason the Costa Hawkins Act was originally signed into law in 1995.

It was a bipartisan effort to allow for moderate rent control provisions while curbing out-of-control regulation on the rental housing industry. The resulting bill did just that: it reigned in some of the most extreme forms of rent control by outlawing vacancy control and price ceilings on single-family homes and new construction, while preserving local government’s ability to place rent control restrictions on properties built before 1995.

The decision to repeal the Costa Hawkins Act comes at a time when the State is in dire need of affordable rental housing. According to the State’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), California’s ongoing housing shortage and affordability problems are getting worse. The problems stem from years of population growth and a long history of costly government regulatory roadblocks to housing development, local government favoritism toward commercial development and job growth over housing development (“fiscalization of land use development”), high permit and impact fees, and rising land and housing development costs. As is clear from the LAO report, many of the State’s housing problems are directly attributable to government action and inaction.

The irony here is that government leaders are attempting to address government created housing shortage problems by adopting legislation that will serve to further restrict the State’s housing supply.

The government’s repeal effort, as counter productive as it may be, however, is consistent with a long history of government decisions that have contributed to, rather than solve, the ongoing housing crisis. This paper focuses on those very government decisions which have contributed to the housing shortage and have kept California in a perpetual state of housing crisis for the last 50 years.

I. The Wisdom of the Legislative Analyst’s Office’s 2015 Housing Report.

California is building too few homes in coastal areas, the now infamous 2015 LAO housing report says.1 Land costs are too high, but can be offset by more density, the report continues.2 Building costs, development costs, and permitting fees are also through the roof according to the report (and not in those words).3 To the question of why coastal areas are not building enough, the housing report provides four answers: a) NIMBY (“not in my back-yard”), b) stringent environmental reviews, c) local finance structures which incentivize nonresidential development over homes (also called fiscalization of land use), and d) limited vacant land.4

Notably, while the LAO report notes that rent control eases housing costs for some,5 it also does not recommend rent control or other housing regulations as viable options to address the State’s crisis. It does state, however, incentivizing development of private housing is the number one priority to begin easing housing shortage and affordability problems.6

II. Government and Its NIMBY Policies.

“Not-In-My-Back-Yard,” the policy or principle of being anti-development in one’s own neighborhood or city, has long been recognized as one of the catalysts for California’s housing shortage. As summarized by the LAO:

For decades, California’s local communities—particularly coastal communities-have built too little housing to accommodate all those who wish to live here.

California’s cities and counties make most decisions about when, where, and to what extent housing will be built. Many local communities have used this authority in ways that have constrained housing development. These community decisions understandably reflect residents’ concerns about the changes that new housing may bring. New housing—and the associated new residents—can exacerbate traffic congestion and parking shortages, stretch local facilities, slow home price appreciation, and alter the community’s character.7

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, NIMBY-ism has racist roots. In San Francisco, for example, as affordable housing needs increased, it began building segregated housing projects by race.

San Francisco did not want its Chinese American residents to live anywhere except in Chinatown. To ensure their confinement in their picturesque ghetto, the Housing Authority imposed a whites only rule for the first three projects it built, all of which still stand: Holly Courts, Potrero Terrace and Sunnydale.


* * *

The official policy [of the San Francisco Housing Authority] was to accept only tenants who conformed to a “neighborhood pattern”—the racial and ethnic demographics of a given neighborhood. Since the city was largely white, minorities were allowed to live in public housing only in a few rundown areas.8

Housing was not welcome in San Francisco. Many neighbors and city leaders opposed the development of public housing projects, fearing the projects would be populated by an undesirable class of people, depress property values, give a false portrayal of the city or an area as a slum, and endanger children.9

As San Francisco’s population continued to rise, NIMBY-ism morphed, at least on the surface, from discriminatory sentiment to one justified by preserving the city’s physical character and environmentalism. Privately, many were concerned with preserving property values.

Over the years, these anti-development sentiments were translated into restrictive zoning, the most cumbersome planning and building approval process in the country, and all kinds of laws and rules that make it uniquely difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to add housing in San Francisco.

This anti-development sentiment has kept San Francisco from meeting its housing needs. When San Francisco should have been building 5,000 new units a year to keep up with demand, it has only averaged 1,500 units a year for the past two decades.10 All across the city, instead of building up and more densely it has created roadblocks and restrictions. One of the biggest roadblocks is the city’s height limits, which limits buildings to no more than 40 feet.11 On average, San Francisco is three stories high.12 Compare that to Paris, which aver ages seven stories, and many Asian cities, which are much taller.13 By density, San Francisco does not even figure on the 50 densest cities in the world.14

NIMBY-ism perpetrated by local governments is one of the root causes of the State’s housing shortage. Governments’ prioritization of city character over meeting housing has led to the adoption of many anti-development laws which in turn has slowed development. Only recently has the State Legislature acknowledged the problem. To combat government sponsored NIMBY-ism, it passed several bills in 2017 to address the issue. One of the bills forces cities to approve projects that comply with existing zoning if not enough housing has been built to keep pace with housing tar gets, while another bill penalizes governments for rejecting housing projects that comply with zoning requirements.

Editor’s Note: This is the end of Part 1 of 3. Part 2 will appear in the June issue of the Apartment Journal.

Ron Kingston can be contacted at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it No portion of this article may be reproduced or copied without the permission of the author (Copyright © 2018 CALPCG).



1 Mac Taylor. California’s High Housing Costs: Causes and Consequences. CA Legislative Analyst’s Office. An LAO Report.
March 2015. Web Jan. 2018.
2 Id. at 12-13.
3 Id. at 13-14.
4 Id. at 15.
5 Id. at 7-9.
6 Id. at 34-35.
7 Mac Taylor. The 2016-17 Budget: Considering Changes to Streamline Local Housing Approvals. Ca. Legislative Analyst’s Office. May 2016. See Summary at 1. Web January 2018.
8 Gary Kamiya. “How SF’s Housing Authority kept its early projects all white.” San Francisco Chronicle. July 22, 2016. Web January 2018.
9 Id.
10 Gabriel Metcalf, Sarah Karlinsky and Jennifer Warburg. “How to Make San Francisco Affordable Again.” SPUR. The Urbanist. Issue 530. February 2014. Web January 2018.
11 Madeline Stone. “This Is What San Francisco Could Look Like If It Had Enough Housing For Its Growing Population.” Business Insider. May 22, 2014. Web January 2018.
12 Christian Nicholson. “Nostalgia and NIMBYism: Rebecca Solnit’s San Francisco — The Bold Italic — San Francisco.”
The Bold Italic. February 18, 2014. Web January 2018.
13 Id.
14 Id.

 

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