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SMRR Supports Four of the Five Ballot Initiatives

Phil Brock For Council 2014

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Michael Feinstein for Santa Monica City Council 2014Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors BureauWhen one lives in a city as breathtakingly beautiful and unique as Santa Monica, inevitably that city will be shared with visitors.

By Daniel Larios
Staff Writer

August 5, 2014 – Members of the powerful and influential Santa Monicans for Renters Rights (SMRR) voted at the group's convention Sunday to support four November ballot measures and oppose an initiative that would require voter approval of all changes to airport land.

By an overwhelming majority, the members accepted the SMRR leadership's recommendation to endorse the Rent Control Charter Amendment, the Real Estate Transfer Tax Measure, the Affordable Housing Advisory Measure and the City Airport Charter Amendment.

They also accepted the recommendation to oppose an Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)-backed ballot measure that would require voter approval on any and all changes to airport land.

The Rent Control Charter Amendment would allow landlords' annual registration fee to go up from $174.96 per unit to a maximum of $288.

Included in the proposal is a restriction that tenants cannot be forced to cover more than 50 percent of the registration fee in the form of a charge on top of regular rent. The current rule caps tenants’ possible payment at $156 per year.

The Real Estate Transfer Tax measure would set the real estate transfer tax at .009 percent of sales price for all real estate transfers over $1 million.

If passed, the measure would generate an additional $4 million to $10.2 million per year, according to City staff estimates.

The measure would require approval by more than 50 percent of voters, since it is an adjustment to the local transfer tax.

“Sacramento has taken back over $68 million in funding from the City of Santa Monica, impacting essential services and programs such as affordable housing,” states the ballot argument from measure supporters, most of whom are part of the SMRR leadership.

“[Passage of the measure] will allow Santa Monica to continue to fund crucial housing and other programs for seniors, disabled persons and low-income working households."

A companion measure polls voters’ attitude toward using money from the tax to build more affordable housing.

“This is an issue that is near and dear to my heart, so I hope that the members vote to support it,” said SMRR co-Chair Patricia Hoffman before members voted to support the measure.

The City-backed airport measure would require voter approval on any development on closed airport land, with the exception of parks, open space facilities and recreational facilities.

“This allows the City to actually manage the airport,” Hoffman said. “It would require voters to approve development on the property except for a nice park or open space.”

The measure was drafted by City staff in response to pro-airport activists’ success in placing an initiative sponsored by AOPA on November’s ballot that would require voter approval on any changes to airport land. SMMR members voted to oppose this measure, which opponents say is an attempt to keep the airport open indefinitely.

“The initiative is overly broad and could impede a number of City operations at the airport and we don’t want to tie up the City in that way,” Hoffman said. “This initiative is preemptive and could potentially stop the City from actually managing the airport.”

The organization will publicize its support and opposition to ballot measures through mailers and other forms of campaigning.

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