The Genesis of Protect Culver City and Measure B
October 8, 2020
By Ron Bassilian, president of Protect Culver City
Shortly after midnight on June 25 2019, Councilmembers laid bare their plans to phase in rent control. At that late hour, a number of us gathered outside Council chambers, determined something must be done. That was the genesis of Protect Culver City.
What should concern everybody is: nobody had run on this issue. Now, they were now fully obeying the demands of some obscure group nobody had heard of.
It followed their infamous inauguration - a Brown Act violation that merited a correction. As goes the inauguration, so goes the tenure. We realized rent control would not be our only -- or even -- our primary issue. This issue was a council that had gone rogue.
Over the following 15 months, we embarked on uncharted waters. We picked up new hot issues that left residents feeling this Council did not care about them.
• When Council developed the unwritten policy to allow transients to live under Venice/405, we represented local residents, tracked the crime spike, and demanded answers.
• When the Am Vets building at Veteran’s Park came up for demolition, we mobilized the residents to say it should remain park space and not converted into residences.
• The George Floyd protests led to similar calls by an aggressive minority to defund Culver City Police Department. By this time, we were able to sound the alarm citywide, and mobilize our “Defend Don’t Defund” campaign.
In each of these issues, Council showed a 4-1 blindness toward any resident concerns.
This blindness is why we drafted Measure B the way we did. It was never meant as a statement for or against rent control, but as a simple demand Council let us have the final word on it. We could have a proper citywide conversation about the issue, and let people decide if it’s a good idea for our city. Other cities like Santa Monica took this route.
The four opposing councilmembers ignored our repeated pleas to put their rent control on the ballot. They are now treating this measure as a de facto repeal of rent control, scaring people with bugbears of “waves of evictions” and “skyrocketing rents” if our measure were to pass. All false. Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti said vacancies are at a record 20% because of the Covid crisis. Meanwhile, we have statewide rent control and ample Covid emergency tenant protections. Measure B leaves all of these in place.
These councilmembers have also painted us as some “outsider funded” organization, which is unfortunate. Our Yes on B supporters page shows how homespun we are, and accurately reflects our public record of contributors. When you threaten residents’ homes and livelihoods, they will pool their resources to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Whether through Measure B, or police funding, or the other issues we stand for, we are presented with a clear question: Do we stand up for our right to determine the direction of our city? Or do we blindly place our fate in the hands of a council, which is blind to public sentiment and has an obvious outside agenda?