I agree likability is a major factor in getting things done at the regional level and agree Bonilla’s fellow commissioners shut her out. I also agree they don’t like working with her.
But I disagree that they shut her out on this issue simply because they don’t like working with her. Bonilla likes to throw out absurd and impossible ideas without thinking them through or understanding the repercussions of the action then asks for a vote. Due process is a concept that Bonilla just doesn’t understand.
Here’s what happened:
She came to the board on June 23rd and gave a 25 minute presentation then asked the board to approve a public hearing for July 7th and direct staff to publicize the meeting which would be for the purpose of drafting a rent stabilization ordinance and ballot language that would go on the ballot for residents to vote on in November. She thinks the county, in just two weeks, has time to write a legal ballot initiative, notify the public and have enough conversation to draft an ordinance? Can you imagine the outcry from the public for pushing through a ballot initiative in two weeks without proper notice.
And the only way this is possible is if the board finds the housing emergency so grave as to constitute a serious menace to the general public. The county attorney said that they would have to do research to make sure there is a housing emergency so grave as to constitute a serious menace to the general public. The attorney could not estimate the time it would take to thoroughly research the issue but did indicate it could not be done in 2 weeks. The attorney cautioned that the ballot initiative would have to be able to be defended if someone sued the county. The attorney also mentioned that a similar ordinance by the City of Miami was invalidated so he would have to do the research to find out why.
Here’s what the other commissioners had to say:
Commissioner Siplin said she was hesitant to move forward until she has more dialog and doesn’t know if this situation rises to the level of a rent freeze.
Commissioner Vanderley pointed out that passing this will have a detrimental effect on affordable housing as less housing will be available. She also questioned if rental rates were rising during this pandemic. She was not in favor.
Commissioner Moore said she is not in support as she doesn’t see rents rising and would like to hear what the Housing Task Force recommends before rushing into this.
Commissioner Uribe said she has more questions than answers and she needs much more information as well as a concern over the legalities.
Commissioner Gomez-Corero said she wanted to see if there were any other avenues that could be taken but did support the initiative.
Mayor Demings said he did not hear a consensus that the commissioners supported the initiative. At this time, Bonilla tried to jump in and the mayor had to remind her he was speaking. He also noted that the time for submitting ballot initiatives was June 12th which had passed. The mayor said he felt as though the board was being asked to rush through something without proper process and being heard from all sides. The mayor also pointed out that landlords have expenses too and it is not all one sided. The mayor said he is not supportive of the initiative. He said he would never want to rush something to the ballot and compared it to the transportation tax that had hundreds of meeting and communication to the public and would never entertain something like this in a time frame of two weeks with no communication to the public.
After all that, Bonilla made a motion to have a discussion on July 7th. She knew 5 commissioner were not in favor yet chose to make the motion. The vote was 5-2; motion failed. I believe all the commissioners care deeply for the residents of Orange County and being forced to vote NO on an issue like this doesn’t sit well. I don’t think Bonilla understands what she did. Something like this puts the commissioners on the spot and forces them to take a stand on an issue where their only option was to vote NO given the circumstances.
We need a commissioner that has the respect of the other commissioners and can get things done. After reading this, does anyone still wonder why “they don’t like working with her”?