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Santa Monica Should Encourage Home Ownership

February 27, 2017

Dear Editor,

It's been awhile since I've written; the time has come to discuss once again the nature and interactions between housing, the right to private property, rent control, upwards mobility and the state of our nation.

Our government has three branches: executive, judicial, and legislative. All three influence the right to private property. One means by which they do so is through influence over banking, an industry which controls access to home ownership.

From my perspective, it was the reckless financing, crude regulation and lack of education available to first-time home owners which led to the 2008 housing crisis. In the wake of this crisis, we are fearful of attempting to own a home.

I and many others strongly believe that home ownership has a positive impact on the self-image of the family and the community, and that home ownership is a proven pathway to America's middle class and an important facet of American national identity.

Since the New Deal and the creation of the 30-year amortized loan, home ownership has been the most effective vehicle of upward mobility and means for reaching the middle class. The 30-year loan created more wealth and American pride than any other policy since the reconstruction.

In Santa Monica, our tenant community has been crippled by the devaluing of home ownership; for nearly 40 years property owners have been cast as exploitative slumlords from whom tenants must be protected. The city leadership has a history of antagonism with housing providers, supporting overly tenant-friendly legislation and lambasting landlords in public forums.

Put simply, our local governments have, through documentation, policy and ordinance, effected a prosecution of property owners. This behavior runs counter to the stated goals of many elected officials across the nation, who year in and year out promote home ownership. Source of income is a protected class, except in rent controlled jurisdictions.

No other group attracts the level of vitriol that Santa Monica and Los Angeles city governments direct towards property owners.

We must never forget the age of European feudalism, or the fascism of the 1930s and 40s -- marked by the regular seizing of individual property. We must not overlook our own history, in which we seized land from the Native Americans.

My fellow Americans, please look for a way to promote home ownership. Without a respect for private property rights, we would be slaves of the state.

Robert Kronovet
Santa Monica Rent Control Commissioner 2008-2012

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