|Santa Monica Lookout|
|B e s t l o c a l s o u r c e f o r n e w s a n d i n f o r m a t i o n|
Send PR here.
Santa Monica Rent Board Recommends Charter Amendment
By Jason Islas
July 2, 2012 -- The Santa Monica Rent Control Board unanimously voted Thursday to recommend that the City Council place a measure on the November ballot that would change how annual increases for rent-controlled units are calculated.
The board -- minus Robert Kronovet, who recused himself from the item citing a conflict of interest -- supported amending the Rent Control charter in order to directly tie the amount landlords can raise rents on controlled units each year to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
“It’s my view that the change would make the law less vulnerable to challenge not more vulnerable to challenge,” said Steven Lewis, legal counsel to the Board.
He was responding to one board member’s concern that an amendment to the Rent Control charter could lead to litigation from landlords.
“We all know that their goal is to starve us out by making us spend a lot of money,” said Board member Todd Flora, referring to the landlords.
Rosario Perry, a land-use attorney, countered that the idea the new formula would make the annual General Adjustment (GA) process clearer was wrong.
“Nobody knows how they calculate CPI,” he said.
J.L. Jacobson, a legal adviser for the Action Apartment Association, agreed. He said the idea was “a big mistake and a big step backward.”
Perry also expressed concern that the GA process would no longer be the result of a public discussion held by the Rent Board if the new formula is adopted.
The proposed formula would automatically calculate the annual GA as 75 percent of the CPI -- a number generated by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This year, using the City’s formula, landlords were allowed to raise rents by 1.54 percent, or 77 percent of CPI.
Flora, who worked with fellow Board member Bill Winslow to push for the formula change, said that tying GAs to CPI is standard practice in other rent control districts, including West Hollywood.
This is just the beginning for the proposed formula change.
Next, it will go before the City Council for approval or further revision. If approved by the council, it will go on the November 6 ballot, where the fate of the formula change will be decided by the voters.
The Santa Monica Rent Control charter has only been amended by ballot three times since it was first adopted in 1979, the latest change coming in 2002.
|Copyright 1999-2012 surfsantamonica.com. All Rights Reserved.|