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March 2014 – Platform meeting

Note: These are the sections of the SMRR 2014 Platform which will be refined at the March 23, 2014 Platform meeting. 

A. All residents are entitled to stability, safety, privacy, dignity and peace in their homes. A primary goal of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights is to support, defend and enhance rent control and tenant protections locally, regionally and statewide.

  1. The protections tenants should be afforded include: fair and reasonable rent controls; freedom from harassment and unfair evictions; well-enforced habitability standards; continuation of established services and amenities; the right to reasonable guest visitation; maintenance of roommate privileges; strong anti-discrimination enforcement, including family protection laws, inheritance rights, and domestic partnerships; and the right to communicate with other tenants about conditions or circumstances in their rentals.
  2. SMRR advocates for the creation and maintenance of laws that give adequate notice and time for tenants to fix curable tenancy violations, with the exceptions of nonpayment and serious criminal behavior. Tenants should be protected from eviction through no fault of their own and should receive sufficient relocation payments. Evictions should be severely limited for particularly vulnerable populations such as the elderly and terminally ill.
  3. SMRR advocates the repeal or major amendments of the Ellis Act and the return of local control in deciding conditions by which landlords can remove buildings from the rental market. The City should stop abuse of Ellis and protect the community from unbridled condo-redevelopment. The City and the Rent Control Board should enforce all owners’ obligations under the Ellis Act.
  4. Destabilizing households and communities through vacancy decontrol, even with recontrol as it exists under the Costa-Hawkins Act, incentivizes harassment and unfair evictions and must be stopped. SMRR will work for repeal or an amendment to limit the amount of rent-increase upon vacancy. The City should continue to adopt and enforce laws to stop harassment and unfair evictions.
  5. SMRR acknowledges the health impacts of secondhand smoke, and supports policies that protect all tenants, including protection from eviction.
  6. Counseling and legal assistance for all renters is necessary, including by continued City-funded legal services for low-income tenants, and by nonprofits and private attorneys. SMRR’s tenant assistance hotline is 310-394-0848.
  7. SMRR will work with tenant groups and other allies around the state to protect and enhance renters’ rights.

B. SMRR strongly supports programs that seek to preserve and expand the supply of affordable housing and maintain the historic ethnic and economic diversity in Santa Monica.

  1. Housing policies should encourage the preservation of existing affordable housing and protect the tenure of existing tenants, including Section 8 and mobile home tenants.
  2. SMRR encourages the City to promote public and private development of affordable housing, emphasizing nonprofit housing, including family and senior housing; long-term care facilities; and temporary, transitional, and permanent housing for the homeless. 
  3. To preserve the character of residential neighborhoods and to reduce the loss of existing housing, Santa Monica must reduce current development height and density limits in multifamily zones with appropriate exemptions for 100% affordable projects and with flexibility for authentic community benefits. 
  4. Most new multifamily building activity should be shifted to mixed-use projects in commercial and industrial areas, with only housing permitted above the first floor and where pedestrian access to retail and transit services can be provided. There should be allowances for first-floor housing for people with special needs.
  5. Santa Monica should focus on affordable housing to meet and exceed its regional responsibility for housing production. Emphasis should be on nonprofit-provided deed-restricted housing, plus temporary, transitional, and permanent housing for the homeless. Santa Monica must adopt policies that ensure that 30% of all new multifamily housing each year be affordable to low, very low and extremely low-income households. The City and Housing Authority should maximize funding for preserving, buying land for, and building affordable housing for low-income households.
  6. The City should facilitate below-market-rate homeownership and rental opportunities for very low and low income households that live or work in Santa Monica. SMRR opposes condo-conversion schemes that create displacement and harassment risks for existing residents.
  7. Housing policy should enable current residents to remain in Santa Monica, as well as allow first-responders, essential service workers, and school and hospital workers with moderate incomes, to live here, provided land acquisition and funding packages do not compete against government and nonprofit purchases of land and/or development funds for low-income households.
  8. Housing policies should protect residents from the adverse effects of residential and commercial development by managing the rate of construction, and should preserve all existing housing structures including, but not limited to, courtyard apartments, mobile homes, and cottage bungalows, which add history, charm, and/or character to the community.
  9. Requiring affordable inclusionary housing is vital to our community. The City, in an ongoing and systematic manner, must improve, monitor, and effectively and humanely enforce all agreements to keep deed‑restricted units affordable and occupied by qualified tenants.
  10. Support the enactment of a “visitability” ordinance for new and/or substantially remodeled homes to (1) meet the housing needs of those with disabilities or who “age in place” and (2) to ensure that people with disabilities have basic visitation access to all new housing, where such an ordinance can be implemented in a fair and reasonable manner and without imposing unduly excessive costs on homeowners.
  11. Santa Monica housing policy should ensure a mix of unit sizes, including units sized adequately for families and households of different sizes. City policies should be formulated to discourage a majority of new units from being very small and non-affordable single units.

D. SMRR supports ensuring the continued prosperity of our local economy while protecting the community from excessive development and the traffic it generates. SMRR is committed to protecting residential neighborhoods from intensification of nearby commercial development

  1. SMRR opposes increasing commercial heights and densities in any commercial district in Santa Monica.
  2. Since commercial development generates much more traffic than housing does, land-use policy should allow only housing above the first floor on commercial boulevards thereby enhancing affordability, sustainability, and preservation of neighborhood character. SMRR favors housing rather than commercial development in order to improve the jobs/housing balance.
  3. Commercial development must not exceed the capacity of the City’s infrastructure, nor should development or infrastructure be permitted where it adversely affects existing residential neighborhoods. The City should limit total commercial development based on infrastructure capacity and mass transit availability, contingent on improvements in circulation and mobility.
  4. Land-use policy, zoning decisions, project reviews, and development agreements should ensure that neighborhoods burdened by development participate in deliberations and gain tangible benefits from those developments. All development agreements must be monitored and enforced in a frequent and systematic manner.
  5. Regional and international visitors are important to Santa Monica’s fiscal success and add important multicultural dimensions to our community. However, visitor attracting services and activities must be designed also to serve and benefit Santa Monica residents.
  6. Small, locally-owned businesses should be protected, encouraged, and facilitated.

E. SMRR is committed to keeping Santa Monica at the forefront of enlightened environmental policy. We strive to make our community and environment better than the way we found them and are determined to improve and strengthen our world-renowned sustainability programs. We affirm the principles of environmental justice, and recognize that disproportionate environmental burdens have been placed on lower income communities. We are committed to land use policies that consider the cumulative impacts and protect residents from increased levels of pollution and expand green and healthy space in impacted areas.

  1. Santa Monica should strive to develop a transit-, pedestrian-, bicycle-oriented community. We should support the development of the Wilshire subway to the sea and the Exposition LRT; expand local bus service; promote free transit; and provide convenient, efficient, and economical shuttle systems to serve and connect our neighborhoods, schools, commercial areas, beaches, and parks.