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Next Meeting: Steering Committee, 12/11/21

SMRR Tenant Hotline: 310-394-0848

Roger Thornton

Gone But Not Forgotten

SMRR Co-founder, Steering Committee member, and longtime SMRR Treasurer Roger Thornton died unexpectedly from a heart attack on October 27.  He was almost 80 years old.  Roger and his wife Chris have two daughters, Jennifer and Stephanie, and two grandchildren, Logan and Emilia.

In 1978 Roger was a member of Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda’s Campaign for Economic Democracy (CED) when he and Chris came over to Cheryl Rhoden’s apartment one evening after we had lost the first Santa Monica rent control campaign.  Denny Zane, also a CED member, recognized Roger, who joined the meeting and became a member for life.

A few years ago, Roger was giving his speech for election to the Steering Committee, and he said “The day that Rent Control passed was the best day of my life.”  And what a party we had that night!

At the time, SMRR was a coalition of 4 groups:  Santa Monica Fair Housing Alliance, Santa Monica Democratic Club and the Committee for Fair Rents, and CED.  We had lost the first campaign because of lack of money, lack of experience, and lack of volunteers.  But with Roger’s and CED’s help we won rent control in Santa Monica on April 10, 1979.

Roger was funny, smart and skilled.  He was a master of the quick but funny one-liner.  He became a real trouper (although he had been a Navy Swift Boater during the war in Vietnam).  He eventually learned to understand hard to understand computer languages.  At a meeting with Zane and computer programmer Michael Adams at the Brandywine Café on Lincoln in 1979, Roger was bitten by the data bug – big time!  He learned the computer skills needed to enable us to do highly sophisticated targeted direct mail to Santa Monica voters, maintained our membership list, set up the newsletter, and managed SMRR finances and campaign reporting as Treasurer for over 30 years. 

In Executive Committee meetings he argued strongly for what he thought was the best course. He could be cranky and had a temper, as we all do, but it mellowed over the years.

In 1978, it wasn’t long after that first meeting before Roger also joined the Ocean Park Perspective, a small activist local newspaper.  Roger learned how to do newspaper layout and production.  The paper was delivered by activist-hand to every door in Ocean Park.  The first article about rent control in Santa Monica appeared in the 1st issue of the Perspective.

We will miss Roger Thornton.  Because of his work, and the work of other SMRR activists, tens of thousands of Santa Monica renters’ have lived their lives with a level of security renters in few communities have experienced.  Thank you, our brother, Roger. 
We will miss you.  

[A short commemoration of Roger’s life will take place at the SMRR Convention on November 14 at 1:00pm. Sign into Zoom around 12:30pm.  Other business will include electing 11 members to the Steering Committee.] 


Low-income tenants STOP and read this article:

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the State of California has had a moratorium on COVID-19-related non-payment evictions.

Now is the best time to apply for funds from the state. The state law preempts local law. So the County is maintaining the part of it’s law that provides protections for COVID-related evictions for things like having a pet or a guest when the lease doesn’t allow it, being a nuisance, or stopping the landlord from entering the unit, etc. Although eviction protections for non-payment of rent for COVID related reasons ends on September 30th, one can still apply for the funding to pay back rent, or in some cases future rent, for a period of time.

For rent due on or after October 1, 2021, tenants will have to pay 100% of their rent each month to avoid eviction.

Through California’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program, eligible low-income tenants can receive 100% of rental arrears accrued since April 1, 2020, as well as prospective rent (up to a maximum of 18 months of total rental assistance). Tenants can receive the assistance directly if the landlord does not apply to the program. Relief is also available for rental debt where tenant has already moved out, but in that case the payments can only go directly to landlords. There is also money to help renters pay utility bills (up to 12 months of utility assistance are available).

To qualify for assistance, the renter must (1) have income at or below 80% of the Area Median Income, (2) have experienced COVID-19 related financial impacts (lost income, increased expenses, etc.), and (3) be at risk of homelessness or housing instability.
Santa Monica residents can call 311 or email [email protected] to apply for rental assistance. Tenants who need in-person help with the application process can schedule an appointment with Santa Monica city staff and/or volunteers. Tenants and landlords can apply for the state rental assistance program directly at housing.ca.gov or (833) 430-2122.

From October 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022, a landlord cannot start an eviction case for nonpayment of rent unless they can show that they applied for rental assistance and the application was denied. Tenants can seek a stay of eviction if they have a pending application for rental assistance. When the rental assistance is received, the case will be dismissed. Tenants who apply for rental assistance by September 30th and are waiting to learn if they have been accepted, cannot be evicted through March 31, 2022.

To finish the application process, renters will need proof of income, their rental agreement and a list showing how much rent is owed. Tenants who want help with utility payments will need copies of the utility bills. Even if applicants do not yet have the paperwork they can still apply and be protected.

Tenants facing eviction should seek advice and possible legal representation by contacting the Santa Monica Office of Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) at (800) 399-4529, Bet Tzedek Legal Services at (323) 939-0506, Eviction Defense Network at (213) 385-8112, or a private attorney.

Apply for Rent Relief: Through March 2022, eviction cases against low-income tenants who can prove their application for rent relief is pending will be paused, under the assumption that the debt prompting the eviction may be repaid.

In the past, tenants had to come forward and assert defenses. Now the landlord has the burden to prove that they’ve been denied rental assistance after good-faith efforts to obtain it.


Click here for information regarding the City of Santa Monica’s Right To Counsel program for tenants who need legal assistance.


Legal Help for Tenants

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles has closed their office reception areas to visitors, starting Monday, March 16 through the end of the month. However, applicants can access LAFLA services by calling 800-399-4529 between 9 a.m.-12 p.m., and 1-4:30 p.m. for intake only, Monday through Friday; or applying online for help. All current client activity will be conducted remotely when possible. Clinics will be held by telephone or video conference when possible. Reasonable accommodations will be made for clients with disabilities.

The Eviction Defense Network (in Los Angeles) is offering tenants free online consultation during the coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis. Email [email protected] with questions and include relevant documents if you can. If you do not have access to the email their office hours are M-F 9:00AM-6:00PM at 1930 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 208, Los Angeles, CA 90057.


Information for Tenants

Notice to Landlord form: Link to the Notice To Landlord Form created by the City of Santa Monica to help tenants communicate with their landlords (updated 1-28-2021): Notice to Landlord form


Affordable Housing and Rent Subsidy Information

Affordable housing and rent subsidy program information is available for Santa Monica Residents and Santa Monica Workers. Application dates and details: Application and Registration Info


City Resources: City of Santa Monica list of resources: City’s List of Community Resources


Recycling information: Don’t know if something should be recycled, composted or placed in the trash bin? We can help. A representative of Santa Monica’s Resource Recovery and Recycling department came to a recent SMRR meeting and answered questions about the current state of recycling in Santa Monica. Click here for more information.