Santa Monica Lookout
Santa Monica Police and Firefighters Back Realtor for Rent Control Board
By Jason Islas
October 9, 2012 -- In the race to sit on the Rent Control Board, the only candidate not backed by Santa Monicans' for Renters' Rights (SMRR) has secured the backing of the city's public safety unions.
Robert Kronovet, owner of Kronovet Realty, has been backed by the Santa Monica Police Officers' Association (SMPOA) and Santa Monica Firefighters, Local 1109 in his bid for re-election to the Rent Control Board for a second term.
“I worked very hard to earn these endorsements,” said Kronovet. “I sought out their endorsements.”
Kronovet said that the went to the unions and asked for their endorsement based on his record when it comes to public safety.
He said he has advocated for background checks of tenants moving into affordable housing units, for better lighting throughout the city, against smoking in apartments.
Kronovet is an oddity. He is the only board member who does not belong to Santa Monica's powerful tenant advocacy group, SMRR. He is also the only realtor who sits on the board.
It's his position as an outsider that got him the endorsement of Santa Monica's longest-sitting Council member Bob Holbrook.
“He's an independent voice on the rent control board. I think it's nice to have one person on the board who isn't a member of a political party,” Holbrook said. “I've known Bob for 20 years. I'm happy to endorse him.”
Christopher Walton, who is running to unseat Kronovet, did not receive the unions' endorsements.
“There was no invitation to apply for endorsement,” he said. “I support the public safety unions. I was surprised that there were no interviews.”
Walton, who is backed by SMRR along with appointed incumbent Ilse Rosenstein, does not see Kronovet's background as an asset, saying that he is “a well-funded, pro-landlord, well-connected Republican.”
As of October 5, Kronovet has raised $10,652. Of that amount, $4,700 came out of Kronovet's own pocket as a loan.
“I am an unfunded, pro-tenant SMRR Democrat,” he said, adding that he has gotten the backing of the tenants' group along with two sitting Rent Control Board members -- Todd Flora and Bill Winslow -- and Council member Kevin McKeown.
He also anticipates that he'll receive the endorsement of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party.
Walton has raised $250, but with the backing of SMRR, he will also benefit from the group's $103,849 war chest.
Kronovet surprised most Santa Monica political observers in 2008 when he became the first non-SMRR candidate to be elected to the Rent Control Board.
“Four years ago, I promoted the idea that I didn't buy that there was really a conflict between housing providers and renters,” he said. “Rent control and SMRR make an effort to promote a conflict.”
The Rent Control Board operates independently of the City and its $4 million annual operating budget is funded primarily by a $13 monthly fee charged to renters.
According to officials, the money goes to Rent Board staff -- there are 26 employees on staff -- salaries and pensions as well as for legal fees.
For legal fees, Rent Board staff has set aside $50,000 for the financial year 2012-2013.
Walton would rather Kronovet not get re-elected. “Almost every vote he makes is anti-tenant,” he said.
“If I lose, then there will be no voice of the supply-side of the equation and SMRR will run the entire rent board, as they have for years,” Kronovet said. “They will promote public discord. They won't deal with hoarders. There will be no voice to deal with the traffic issues.”
The Police Officers' Association has raised $76,199.85 as of June 30, 2012. They did not file for the July 1 to September 30 period.
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