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Santa Monica Rent Board Picks New Commissioner

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

February 12, 2016 -- Anastasia Roark Foster, a 10-year resident of Santa Monica, is the newest commissioner on the Rent Control Board. She was appointed by a 3-0 vote on Thursday.

Foster was one of the two people who applied for the seat that became vacant in December when Ilse Rosenstein resigned. The other applicant was Realtor and landlord Elaine Golden-Gealer.

Both applicants addressed the three commissioners in attendance (Todd Flora was absent) before they voted. Nicole Phillis nominated Foster.

“I have gotten to know [Foster] in some of the work I’ve done in the community and I think she would be a welcome addition to the board,” Phillis said.

Foster wrote in her application that she was a voiceover artist and had lived in two rent-controlled apartments in Santa Monica.

“I’ve witnessed a variety of ownership and management scenarios, both good and less than ideal,” Foster wrote.

She continued, “I’ve assisted neighbors with interpretations of their leases and helped explain their rights, while also pointing out what they did wrong with respect to the terms of their leases.”

Her “biggest education” in rent control, Foster wrote, came when she trained to be a volunteer for the Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) hotline.

“I logged dozens and dozens of calls from our citizens who were seeking answers to their very specific questions and unique situations,” she wrote. “Getting answers for them required me to dig deeply into every corner of the rent control law.”

Golden-Gealer’s application was a longshot, something she acknowledged when she addressed the board. A regular speaker at rent board meetings, often speaking as a critic, Golden-Gealer said all the commissioners were “pro tenant.”

“Why not give your board some balance by appointing an experienced Santa Monica owner like me?” she asked, saying she would bring “a unique perspective” to the board.

She joked that she was also qualified because like Rosenstein, whose seat she would be filling, she was “an older Jewish woman who lives near Todd Flora,” and that she would make meetings “exciting and entertaining, causing your TV ratings to spike.”

Last month, Golden-Gealer made a PowerPoint presentation to the board with slides featuring scenes from The Godfather and claimed the appointee would be the person chosen by SMRR.

To receive the appointment, Golden-Gealer told the board last month, one must “hate apartment owners.”

SMRR did not make a public recommendation for the appointment. However, it is true that the political group has a major influence over who becomes a rent board commissioner.

Property owner Robert Kronovet’s, elected in a 2008 upset, was the only person to serve on the board in its nearly 40-year-history without SMRR’s backing.

Foster will serve the remainder of Rosenstein’s term, which expires this November. She will have to win an election in the fall if she wants to remain on the board.

Commissioners are not allowed to serve more than two full terms, so Foster would only be able to serve one full term following the partial one.

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