Patterico's Pontifications

3/23/2006

What’s Wrong with “The Shuffle”?

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Public Policy — Patterico @ 6:14 pm



Funny, this L.A. Times story is obviously supposed to get me angry at downtown skid row hotels, but it just leaves me feeling sympathetic towards the people who run them:

It’s known as the “28-day shuffle” — the long-standing yet illegal practice by skid row hotels of forcing residents out of their rooms before the one-month point to avoid them becoming legal “tenants” and receiving certain rights under state law.

How is it “illegal”? The story never explains this.

For years, homeless advocates have complained that the shuffle is a huge barrier blocking transients and poor families from establishing permanent routines and gaining even tenuous roots in the community.

But on Wednesday, for the first time, the Los Angeles city attorney filed suit against two of downtown’s biggest single-room occupancy hotels, accusing operators of regularly shuffling transients in and out of their properties to prevent them from becoming tenants.

Los Angeles City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo targeted the Frontier and Rosslyn, two landmark hotels in the heart of skid row.

“The 28-day shuffle is illegal and immoral,” Delgadillo said in an interview. “I won’t stand by while the most vulnerable residents are being exploited.”

“Exploited”? The hotels are simply trying to prevent them from gaining the rights of long-term tenants without paying the freight:

Robert Frontiera, who along with his brother operates Zuma [Corp., which operates two hotels named in the suit], denied any wrongdoing. He said that both hotels make a distinction between hotel guests and tenants.

“We have a policy: You can check in as a hotel guest, but if you want to be a monthly tenant you have to qualify,” he said. Long-term tenants and anyone wanting to become tenants can apply, but it requires security deposits and a background check.

Of course. That’s how long-term tenancy works.

Just what are these hotels supposed to do?? Gain dozens or hundreds of long-term “tenants” who don’t qualify as such?

You know what happens when you get a tenant who can’t pay the first and last months’ rent, can’t pay a security deposit, and doesn’t qualify financially?

I’ll tell you what happens: you get screwed. The tenant stays rent-free, you struggle to evict them, and you lose money.

This is a recipe for bankruptcy.

The city alleges that hotel operators used a computer system to ensure that occupants did not exceed the four-week mark. Occupants wishing to stay a single day longer had to deposit three months’ rent, authorities allege.

So they have to behave like long-term tenants do: pay the first and last months’ rent, plus another as a security deposit.

Shocking!

(Of course, if state law weren’t so skewed towards tenants to begin with, such measures wouldn’t be necessary. But let’s not even get into that.)

I don’t know anything about the legalities involved; maybe somebody can fill me in. But I know that, morally and common-sensically, this lawsuit stinks. And, save what is reported from the hotel owners themselves, nothing of this perspective is reflected in the article.

11 Responses to “What’s Wrong with “The Shuffle”?”

  1. The left wing liberal politicians have driven thousands of businesses out of the country. I guess they think a hotel can’t leave so they’ll rip them off. Maybe the owner’s will convert them to ‘all’ monthly rentals or simply let them run down and sell them to the city fot ten times what they were worth before they became run down. Happens everyday if your brother-in-law is on the city council or something.

    scrapiron (71415b)

  2. We are forgetting were these Hotels are and who uses there places. Your arguements for the rights of the owners are certainly valid…to a degree, however, “guests” and “tenants” both have rights that should be honored. No one that pays their rent and lives by the rules of the establishment should have to vacate, maybe the “guest” should have the opportunity to wave his “tenant” rights and remain living at the location until they can pay a “reasonable” rental deposit to become a “tenant.” I think it is important here to realize were where these hotels are located and who is using them. May not be popular to feel they deserve “not to have the deck stacked against them,” but they don’t.

    BoyHowdy (f766a3)

  3. “The 28-day shuffle is illegal and immoral,” Delgadillo said in an interview. “I won’t stand by while the most vulnerable residents are being exploited.”

    And he certainly should not. He should open his home to them to free them from the exploiters who are the only thing that keeps them from sleeping in the gutter.

    nk (947b03)

  4. So BoyHowdy expects that the hotel owners should be compelled to provide housing. That is Slavery compelling one to yield his economic earning to another. BoyHowdy should open his house to the poor unfortunate.

    Not a Yank (4e8ccd)

  5. Since a tenant’s rights aren’t waivable in CA, that solution won’t work.

    Bob Smith (d57802)

  6. BoyHowdy,

    Good arguments! I’ll be coming to live with you as soon as I can, rent-free, of course. Garlic & beans for dinner, roomie? Oh, and I’m having a guest; do you mind not coming home this eve?

    ras (f9de13)

  7. BoyHowdy is right. There ought to be some mechanism whereby hotel guests can waive their tenancy rights so that they can stay more than 28 days. It is basically unfair that they are being forced out despite paying for a room.

    The problem is nay such waiver would not only have to be legal, but also ironclad so that it couldn’t be overturned by a judge at some point.

    The best solution would be to get rid of the 28 day law altogether.

    But basically the goal of this lawsuit is to ensure that transients have nowhere to go except shelters. Thats not right.

    nittypig (4c1c43)

  8. Hotel guests pay sales tax, sometimes a room tax. Tenants don’t pay tax. If homeless were allowed to waive their tenant rights, they could stay as long as they paid the rent and pay 10% less.

    However, landlords would demand that everyone waive tenants rights, and tenants would actually have to pay rent on a timely basis to remain in the property. This would put many lawyers out of business and on the street, actually increasing the homeless problem. Next time, think a little before you post stupid ideas about waiving tenants rights.

    TomHynes (672604)

  9. Would the evictions be suspended for the duration of the suit, thus automatically rendering the guests immune to eviction?

    great unknown (71415b)

  10. All the politicians are jumping on the bandwagon!

    Years ago, though, even the LAT lauded the downtown milieu as friendly to “homeless” who are drug addicts/alcoholics as all their free food services and low cost housing was available in one place– drugs, too, as one resident put it. Since nobody wants drugs addicts or alcoholics in their neighborhoods, what exactly is the alternative? And protecting their status quo amounts to enabling them, IMO.

    Patricia (2cc180)

  11. Aren’t we missing something here? The Rockster said the practice was “illegal”. So, is it “illegal” or not?

    TLB (23cfcf)


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