William McMorrow of Kennedy Wilson is a dickhead and people should boycott his many properties

I’ve spent a good amount of time on Craigslist, lately, looking for a 1-bedroom apartment in the South Bay. It sucks about as much as you’d expect, with units getting rented days before the open house was scheduled to happen.

It’s not where I ended up living, but I did take a tour of this place, which was representative of the area. The rent on where I’d been living had gone up by $250 in 2 years, probably because they weren’t allowed to increase the rent any faster. I had about 6 months before another price hike, and I had other reasons for moving. I figured applying for apartments is now like applying for grad school, so I had to keep even the worst options open while hoping for something better to come along.

Thank God something did.

I have an interest in homelessness, anyway, and I compulsively research things, so I’ve been reading more about the Bay Area housing situation. TL;DR: the tech industry is ruining it for everyone else, with their $123k median salaries and their yuppie tastes.

In the South Bay, $2000+/month gets you a crappy place to live, with landscaping. My previous rental experiences hadn’t involved corporate mega-properties, so I was a bit surprised at how much it felt like a college dorm.

The first thing you notice is that they can’t give you a straight answer about how much it costs to rent an apartment from them. A complex formula determines the pricing dynamically, taking into consideration the date, the current number of vacancies, many characteristics of each apartment, and the pattern of goat entrails left behind after making sacrifices to Lucifer. Wizards from Stanford and MIT help them extract every last penny from real-time market conditions.

Security guards will lock you away from your clothes for the next 8 hours, if you stay up past midnight doing laundry. Presumably, fuck you if you need to catch a last-minute flight or something.

The guy from Greystar, the property management company, didn’t like that I turned the light out in the bathroom of the display unit after I was done looking at it. Maybe our financial superiors feel insulted that they’d need to literally lift a finger on their apartment tour? Either way, he gave a reason not to be concerned about illuminating an empty room: the apartment complex could afford the electricity!

I used the opportunity to ask about early morning leaf blowers (8 AM, it turns out). Reviews of the complex had mentioned them. He cheerfully explained that they do landscaping to “keep it nice for the residents.” It’s true that everything was green and lush in the middle of a catastrophic drought. It’s also true that leaf blowers are loud, pointless, and more polluting than car engines. Use a rake, if you must.

The laundry room used a proprietary card system. The machines for adding money to them were in the office, which is presumably locked when people actually need to do laundry after work.

Of course there’s an automatic gate, to keep out the riff raff.

I asked who owns the complex, and I was enlightened: Kennedy Wilson. Meet the gentrifiers. They talk like aliens:

In November 2011, Kennedy Wilson acquired Westview Heights, a 198-unit apartment complex in Portland, Oregon for $32 million from a hard money lender. The properties were built as for-sale townhomes in two phases in 2002 by a local developer. The Beaverton market has experienced strong rent growth over the past years as the area’s two top employers, Nike and Intel, have expanded their operations. Kennedy Wilson believes the area is poised for continued rent growth in the years to come. The quality and vintage of Westview Heights makes it a prime acquisition target for an institutional or regional investor looking for a stabilized Class A multifamily project at exit. Assets were built as for-sale townhomes and may attract interest from condo converters

They have more money than God:

William McMorrow is chairman and CEO of Kennedy Wilson, which he purchased in 1988. Beginning with just one office and eleven employees, today Kennedy Wilson has 25 offices in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Spain, Jersey and Japan with 450 corporate employees and 4,000 operating employees as well as assets under management of more than $18 billion, including over 71 million sq. ft. of office, retail and industrial properties and 25,000+ multifamily units. In November of 2009, the company went public and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Kennedy Wilson Japan went public in 2002 and is currently listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Kennedy Wilson Europe was established in 2011 and now has offices in Dublin, London and Madrid, employing a team of more than 90 professionals. In December 2013, the company acquired an interest in a Spanish property management and loan servicing business with 260 employees and €20 billion of assets under management.

One of the earliest investors in Ireland, Kennedy Wilson has quickly become one of the top commercial property owners in the country. In 2011, the company served as the catalyst and lead investor in the recapitalization of the Bank of Ireland. Kennedy Wilson today has more than $5 billion of assets in Ireland and the U.K.

In early 2014, Kennedy Wilson Europe Real Estate plc was established and listed on the London Stock Exchange. The $1.7 billion IPO represents the largest real estate vehicle listing since the economic downturn and the second largest real estate IPO in the history of the London Stock Exchange.

Numerous publications have profiled Kennedy Wilson and Mr. McMorrow, including the New York Times, Irish Times, Estates Gazette, Los Angeles Business Journal and PERE. In 2012, Real Estate Forum magazine selected Mr. McMorrow as one of Southern California’s Real Estate Icons.

Being world overlord doesn’t make you an interesting person:

He’s hollow and cheesy. His most original observation is that it sucked when the prime interest rate was more like the interest rates on normal people’s credit cards.

He’s made a fortune pricing people out of their neighborhoods, but he’s a “handshake kind of guy.” What kind of wishy-washy sleazeball can’t tell you an honest price for something? He goes out of his way to emphasize that giving back to society doesn’t have to involve, y’know, the money he stole from everybody.

He stood up in front of everyone, in the august setting of Pepperdine University, and announced that his very-lucky-to-have-him mentor threw his weight around to get him a job he admits he wasn’t qualified for at age 32: running all of a bank’s commercial and real estate investments. Even though his Catholic family had 9 children, he could still go to Our Lady of Malibu School, which now costs $10,000 annually, for each child (plus fees).

Sometimes you really have to wonder why rich people destroy the future of everything for short-term gains. It turns out they have little affirmations they say to themselves, abbreviated “TNT” for maximum testosterone: “Today, not tomorrow!” The Cremation of Care!

This guy got obscenely rich in a way that disproportionately affects black people. I’m sure he disproportionately uses Hispanic people to do the work of keeping his property worth every cent. He asks us to reflect on the sacrifices of our ancestors.

You see, his ancestors came here on a boat, and it was just terrible! It was 1845, and they’d throw you overboard if you got sick!

When I went to the rental office, I was dressed in my normal fashion: wearing a beanie, torn up shoes, and an old black hoodie. When I sat down, the guy said “Hey, brother,” in that way you can’t be sure if he says that to everybody or if he’s a racist douchebag. The inherent ambiguity of microaggressions…

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that William J. McMorrow is more than likely racist and doesn’t have any black friends. He had positive things to say about Ronald Reagan.

I can soooo relate about boats and my ancestors, though. There’s a book all about it called The Slave Ship: A Human History.

A second case was even more gruesome. Another captain facing a “rage for suicide” seized upon a woman “as a proper example to the rest.” He ordered the woman tied with a rope under her armpits and lowered into the water: “When the poor creature was thus plunged in, and about half way down, she was heard to give a terrible shriek, which at first was ascribed to her fears of drowning; but soon after, the water appearing red all around her, she was drawn up, and it was found that a shark, which had followed the ship, had bit her off from the middle.” Other slave-ship captains practiced a kind of sporting terror, using human remains to troll for sharks: “Our way to entice them was by Towing overboard a dead Negro, which they would follow till they had eaten him up.”

Note that McMorrow’s family moved to the United States before the end of slavery. My dad’s side of the family was dragged here involuntarily long before the McMorrows came here and shed the stigma of being niggers turned inside out.

In addition to the Navy SEAL Foundation, McMorrow does buy indulgences for making homelessness worse: he gives to a charity called Chrysalis, which helps homeless people get jobs and clarifies on its website that it offers a “hand up, not a hand out.” While it’s no doubt useful to help people with their “self-directed” job searches, it’s transparently based on the mean-spirited fiction that homeless people don’t already have jobs, which don’t pay enough to cover the rent charged by McMorrow’s investment vehicles.

It’s a cheap thing to say, but at least I earned my doctorate. He was given an honorary one. Everything is given to the rich, and meritocracy is a self-serving lie.

William McMorrow is an asshole, and I’d encourage everyone to avoid the many properties owned by Kennedy Wilson.  The most basic principle of a free market society is that we don’t have to spend our disposable income on William McMorrow if we don’t want to.

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