Those have to be fighting words to Westside Rentals.
Early one Sunday morning I met up with Kenny “Tex” Texeira, a burly 48-year-old musician with a ponytail. At Westside Rentals he’s called a “solicitor,” but this is what he actually does: He cases neighborhoods at slow speeds, putting up signs and scouting the homemade FOR RENT ones that the company can use as leads, contacting landlords for permission to list the property.
Texeira, a former housing inspector for a HUD subcontractor, has been placing Westside Rentals signs for 11 years. He’s never been on salary. The job, he told me, starts at $3.50 per sign and $1 per potential new listing spotted and passed on to a salesperson.
Just after 7 a.m., Texeira was circumnavigating the West Hollywood/Hollywood area in his Dodge Caravan. His supplies were laid out in the hatch: a bunch of wooden stakes and a mallet, zip ties (to affix signs to properties without grass), signs in two sizes (Beverly Hills and West Hollywood have restrictions), and a plastic storage box filled with adhesive numbers for the text-this-to-that codes.
We trolled stretches of Sweetzer and Croft perennially dense with rentals, where the shade of blue on the street signs told Texeira whether he was still in West Hollywood (which requires the smaller Westside Rentals lawn sign) or had officially crossed over to L.A. (bigger one). As we drove, Texeira exhibited pride in his employer in a tone that indicated he believes there’s only one horse in this race, and he’s backing it.
“When you see RadPad signs now, you can tell they’ve been there for a while,” he said derisively. “If you see a Westside Rentals sign, it’s usually fresh and new.”
By the time we had neared Mid City, Texeira was telling me about one of the first songs he sold to the movies, for a 1993 action thriller called Firepower, starring Chad McQueen. The bosses at Westside Rentals don’t pay for gas or mileage, Texeira said, but they do give a cash bonus to whoever puts up the most signs in a given pay period. Texeira allowed that he often wins. That weekend alone, while L.A. slept, he would hit 106 properties in two days.
Paul Brownfield’s most recent piece for Los Angeles, “What Can I Tell You?,” about his quest to better know his late father, appeared in the October 2015 issue.