News

A Tribute to Nancy Ahlswede

Print
PDF

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.

</hr>

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

Print
PDF

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.

March 2018

Print
PDF

I read a recent post that illustrated selflessness and acknowledged grace and empathy. A young person at a busy intersection in Long Beach got out of his car to help an elderly woman, who was in a wheelchair, finish her journey to the other side. The woman who posted about this event honked at the truck in front of her because they were not moving. She could not see around the truck but soon realized what the problem was the woman in the wheelchair was not able to quickly maneuver the street from one side to the other. She ended her story by saying that once the cars around this woman understood why no one was moving, everyone was patient and waited for the young man to assist the woman safely to the other side of the street. Needless to say they also had to wait for another green light. It struck me that if we all under stood and listened to both sides on the issue of rent control, just cause eviction and housing and reacted with under standing and patience, that more could be accomplished.

The current attack on the multifamily housing industry is completely unfair. Pinning owners/landlords as greedy is untrue and not an accurate picture of the owners/landlords that I know. The multifamily industry did not create the housing crisis, and there are many tenants whose owners are more like family, do not unfairly raise their rents and are empathetic to their circumstances. It appears that the sky is not falling when you listen.

To position fear in the place of logic and to respect everyone who is in this together would produce a much more thought-out approach. Is this concept of under standing so foreign that the only goal is to punish both owner and tenant? Someone must step up and say STOP to more sanctions, increased control that pushes one side more than the other. Unrealistic expectations will not solve the situation. There will be unintended consequences that we don’t currently understand, and acting on emotion and control are not the way to resolve this crisis. We must find a way to educate, inform and work together.

On another more important note, we just celebrated the installation of our 2018 President, Michael Pollack. Michael brings with him some great energy and his theme for the year is ENGAGEMENT. Engage on all fronts, engage on committees, engage in education and engage in our industry. We welcome and look forward to a great year. Congratulations Michael!

Rent Control

Print
PDF

Rent Control: Left and Right Economists Finally Agree on Something… and Other Major Points

Time and again we have gone to bat to raise awareness about the awful—and unintentional—effects of rent and price control as well as removing extremely important laws in place. In theory, as in many cases, enacting help in that way for the public sounds like a good thing with little downside—that is to those who have no experience or training on the economic and other side effects. And when we repeal laws meant to counteract some of the major downsides that quickly pop up, such as Costa-Hawkins which allows vacancy decontrol (allows a landlord to rent vacancies at Market Rent) and prevents cities from adding other housing types into their rent controlled ordinances, it has even more harsh downsides for the entire community—not just the landlords who have worked very hard to pay for and operate their businesses, as well as to provide necessary housing for the general public.

Published in the Econ Journal Watch, Volume 6, Number 1, dated January 2009, is a very interesting piece culminating from a study completed by several economists—from both the right and left in politics—on policies concerning rent control and its effects on the local economies. In the Journal, the economists actually agree with one another in that a “preponderance of evidence of the literature points toward the conclusion that rent control introduces inefficiencies in housing markets.” This is not just for the landlords, but also for the residents who live there. Along with that last statement, they also clarify that, “the literature on the whole does not sustain any plausible redemption in terms of redistribution. The literature on the whole may be fairly said to show that rent control is bad, yet… about 140+ jurisdictions persist in some form of the intervention.” Even more alarming, they begin their assessment saying, “Rent control is usually introduced to economics students as a price ceiling and an unambiguous (‘clear-cut’) source of inefficiency.” Whoa! When I first learned of this, that really made my ears perk up; why aren’t more people paying attention to this? That’s like the case with being allowed to put MSG in foods—scientists feed it to rats as their genuine protocol to fatten them up and speed the decline of their health to study diseases! So, in both cases, we know it’s extraordinarily the wrong thing to do, and here we continue pressing it on? It sure can leave one scratching their head in breathtaking bewilderment.

Here are some other major points included in an article published just back in January of this year about a study done in San Francisco titled, “How Rent Control Can Exacerbate Inequality.” In their introduction they pointed out that these laws are “not all they’re cracked up to be” and their study concluded the following:

• …landlords were 10 percent more likely to convert their building into condos if it became rent controlled. The rental supply in San Francisco dropped by 6 percent following the expansion of rent control.

• Rents throughout the city increased by 5.1 percent as a result—researchers calculated total cost to tenants from rent hikes to be $2.9 billion, nearly half of which was paid by residents who moved to San Francisco following the establishment of rent control.

• Given the negative repercussions of rent control policies, the researchers argued that other approaches to affordable housing that don’t inherently punish landlords might be more effective, such as creating a tax credit for rent.

Some of that is worth restating: Because these laws were put into place, they actually had an opposite effect and drove prices up. Here, in our communities, we are doing what we can to keep prices down—we are looking for the lowest priced ven dors—apartment suppliers, like stores/outlets, to specialized skilled wor kers such as plumbers/electricians—while at the same time not sacrificing the quality of work. This is not an easy task. With inflation constantly on the rise coming out of Washington, no price controls on taxes and fees, no insurance control, no paint control, no pipe control, no light fixture control, and rising utility prices—how does that justify keeping only one sector down and forcing them to pay the inflating prices of these other necessities while none of the above men tioned must keep their prices down for anyone? Where’s the equality?

Pet Policy Gone Wild

Print
PDF

New “assistance animals” regulations proposed by the Fair Employment and Housing Council (FEHC) will likely cause heartburn in the rental housing community. The attempt to bring clarity in the murky area of service and support animal needs versus fraud is fraught with ambiguity. It is understandable why rental property owners are confused about the law, existing and proposed. Unless you’re a lawyer who regularly studies these issues, it is hard to know where one assistance animal law begins and another one ends. When does “reasonable accommodation” become unreasonable? Ultimately, rental property owners are scared of being sued and, therefore, often choose to allow support animals onto their property, even when they suspect fraud is being perpetrated on them.

But owners have very important, reasonable and necessary reasons for having a no-pets policy. Animals can be dangerous, spread disease, interfere with the quiet enjoyment of others, and damage property. An owner’s right to keep animals off a property, unless to accommodate a person with a real need, therefore, must be protected. Unfortunately, current laws, including future laws under this Proposal, fail to protect owners from those fraudulently gaining access for their animals to rental properties.

Rental housing owners and managers support and understand the need for providing reasonable accommodations to those who legitimately need an emotional support animal, as these animals (or “comfort animals”) can provide a therapeutic benefit to those with a mental or psychiatric disability.

We also recognize that service and support animal fraud is rampant and easily perpetrated under our current laws and regulations. More and more individuals are pretending their pets are legitimate service or emotional support animals when, in fact, the person has no legitimate need for the animal or the animal itself is not legitimately a service or support animal. Ultimately, that is the main concern we have expressed in regard to FEHC’s Proposal: the proposed regulations do little to protect rental property owners from fraudulent requests for support animals.

Support and service animal fraud is widespread in our society. Fake assistance animals are everywhere. Multiple news reports suggest that it is more than a few bad apples that are perpetrating the fraud. Rental property owners should not be forced to accommodate people who are perpetrating fraud on them, nor should laws and regulations facilitate such fraud. Unfortunately, this Proposal does just that, because it contains few, if any, effective anti-abuse mechanisms to prevent people from gaming the system.

People requesting a reasonable accommodation for a support animal should have a legitimate disability that requires them to have a support animal. They should have a real diagnosis and prescription for a support animal by a real medical or mental health professional with expertise to give an opinion about the disability at issue and the need for a service or support animal. The disability diagnosis and need for a support animal should also be current. Any one with a real disability and a real need for a sup port animal should have this kind of documentation. Without these standards, there are no standards. Anyone could self-diagnose, tell their friends or “peer support group” they have a disability and a need for a support animal, and then use that friend or group as a source to verify their disability. Alternatively, a person who was diagnosed with a disability five years ago, and who might not currently have a disability or need for an accommodation, could use that stale prescription to game the system. We are sure that this is not the way the law is supposed to work.
We submitted, on behalf of the Association, detailed comments on the FEHC’s Assistance Animal Proposal, including a number of ways the Proposal is deficient in preventing fraud and subject to abusive conduct:

  • Diagnosis or assessment by a licensed medical or mental health professional is not required.
  • The need for a support animal is not required to be a current need.
  • The person verifying a person’s disability or need for an accommodation does not need to be a medical or mental health professional or need to have specific training or education about support animals.
  • When an owner knows about a disability but not the need for an accommodation, the owners should still be able to request reliable information describing the needed accommodation and the nexus between disability and accommodation.

A meaningful review of a requested accommodation should allow rental property owners to make reasonable requests for certain reliable documents from reliable sources that are specifically defined. The following is a list of provisions that should be contained within the regulation to prevent fraud and abuse, and to ensure that reasonable accommodations are provided to those with legitimate needs:

  • Owners should be able to require disability and need for accommodation verification documents to come from a licensed medical or mental health professional.
  • The documentation should describe the nature, severity and duration of the disability.
  • The disability, need for the accommodation, and verifying documentation should be current (i.e., not more than one year old), and on letterhead from a mental health professional.
  • The medical or mental health professionals must have expertise to give an opinion about the person’s medical condition and the need for the accommodation.
  • Owners should be able to request new verification documents if the previous “doctor’s note” was not described as permanent.
  • The person seeking the accommodation must be under the current care of the prescribing medical or mental health professional.
  • Verification from a “letter mill” should be prohibited entirely.

Our comment letter to FEHC on assistive animals high lighted all the ways in which the Proposal represents an unbalanced approach to addressing the issue of assistive animals in rental housing. We discussed the failure of the Proposal to consider the quiet enjoyment of other tenants, nuisance issues, the safety and health of other tenants, pet fraud, and the need for rental housing providers to be able to establish reasonable rules for tenants who are provided a reasonable accommodation. In short, the needs of property owners and other tenants are not properly accounted for or taken into consideration, and the Proposal should be amended to better reflect the realities of landlord tenant relationships and the respective needs of each group.

Related Articles

Contact AACSC

Apartment Association,

California Southern Cities
333 W. Broadway St., Suite 101
Long Beach, CA 90802
(562) 426-8341

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it