Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray's Crusade Against Slumlords Really a War on Poor Residents

Josué Rivas / OC Weekly
An apartment complex on Guinida Lane
Anaheim City Councilwoman Kris Murray is usually known for being a cold technocrat (as well as for being a 2013 OC Scariest People inductee), so it was odd when she spoke with passion about squalor. "To the slumlords who are trying to operate in our city, we want you to get out," Murray warned during an August Quality Rental Housing program workshop. "We are coming!"

The program has been a point of pride for the councilwoman, with her allies on the dais giving giddy props. But after meeting with rental associations since the initial workshop, the final version of Murray's anti-slumlord crusade--slated for a vote at Tuesday's City Council meeting--is really just an effort to boot low-income residents under the guise of addressing overcrowding. And not giving an actual shit about the poor, of course!

Anaheim has unsuccessfully tried to target slumlords numerous times in the past, stretching as far back as 1993 under then-Code Enforcement head John Poole. Rental associations and landlords have cried foul over previous proposals, but Murray's Quality Rental Housing Program is so nonthreatening to them now that it seems poised to pass without any complaints.

With roots dating back to a few months after the 2012 riots, when a number of department heads brainstormed a "Blight Eradication Program," the plan originally called for a flat enrollment fee for apartment owners of just $16 per-unit annually. This would help fund the beefing up of Code Enforcement with six new hires under a proposal by Poole himself, who latched on to the discussion as a consultant.

That didn't sit well with rental associations or apartment owners. "My initial reaction is that, ideally, responsible landlords should not have to pay for those that are not," wrote Mike Balsamo of the OC chapter of the influential Building Industry Association in an email to Planning Department head Sheri Vander Dussen that was obtained by the Weekly. Meanwhile, an anonymous letter sent to council members by apartment owners took issue with the program, even taking time to ridicule Murray about her much-ballyhooed visit to a vermin-infested tenement. "The only reason this has come about is because of two council members, Kris Murray and Gail Eastman," the letter reads. "They went with staff from Code Enforcement to do an inspection because it was someone from the Colony area's friends house, NOT an apartment."

The baseline enrollment fee vanished by the time the Quality Rental Housing Program returned for a follow-up workshop in November. The funding, as it stands, will now come from the Planning Department's budget, albeit with three fewer hires. Council members thanked residents for their input at that workshop, but that was merely a shout-out to the mostly white, well-to-do Anaheim Neighborhood Association (ANA)--and not those who actually live in densely populated barrios, who weren't in attendance that day.

A Management Practices Questionnaire will be sent to owners as part of Murray's proposal and is heavily focused on occupancy restrictions. Among the questions: Does your rental agreement . . . state the maximum number of occupants permitted in the unit? Are all adult occupants of each apartment named on the rental agreement? Should you find occupants living in the unit who are not listed on the rental agreement for that unit, what action do you take?

Actual questions posed to residents? None.

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White, well-to-do Colony resident (and one-time ANA member) here.  I used to puzzle at Murray's extreme popularity among my neighbors, particularly those who should be smart enough (or have seen enough political BS during their time here) to know better.  But now, I've come to see how she excels at these "service-y" gestures -- responding to the occasional neighborhood concern du jour with an initially flashy gesture (swashbuckling tours of slum properties!) that eventually crumbles down into nothing (we're going to make property owners fill out a VERY STERN QUESTIONNAIRE!), hopefully after you've stopped paying attention.  

[Another recent case in point: Kris Murray is THE ONLY ONE who is fighting against power plants and for parks in your neighborhood!  Why does Tom Tait hate parks??!?  In the end, the (unlikely in the first place) power plant ended up not getting built for reasons having nothing to do with Kris Murray, and (oops!) we're no closer to getting a park on that vacant land.]

And every time, for one more time, she's cemented herself into peoples' minds as the one who really cares about neighborhoods, allowing herself to get back to her real jobs: getting reelected, and distracting the citizenry whenever they move the cash vacuum into the pocket of somebody new.


"Kris Murray is usually known for being a cold technocrat" 

A slight disagreement. She just wants people to think she's a technocrat. She isn't.

20ftjesus topcommenter

"More spacious accommodations are simply unaffordable" 

Riverside & San Berdo are much cheaper.


I'm curious on what Murray thinks they will accomplish by doing these inspections at an agreed upon time with the residents.  Wouldn't the residents have the common sense to have the extra people staying there leave for a little while, while the inspection is done?  OK - looks good to me... only three people living in this apartment...



But the commute would SUCK. I would have to live there if not for the fact I am blessed to be able rent a room cheap from my parents here in HB. An unmarried "spinster" living with her parents is quite old-school, actually. ;-)

20ftjesus topcommenter

@FishWithoutBicycle Brings back youthful memories of waiting for the parental units to go to the movies so I could invite "friends" over.  ;)  

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