By Marilyn Korade/Wilson, Rent Control Board Commissioner
Thirty-four years old and still counting! When the newly organized Santa Monicans for Renters Rights placed Proposition A on the April, 1979 ballot, rent control was born. The objective was to preserve the number and quality of units which were affordable to low and moderate income residents. Santa Monica, a high desirable beach city, under the leadership of SMRR, voted in the toughest rent control amendment in the state. Despite efforts to destroy, defame, and change it, rent control lives on.
Most recently, the seeds of Measure RR were planted at a SMRR Housing Committee meeting. RR extends “just cause” eviction protections to all tenants in all multi-family apartment buildings; requires landlords to give tenants a reasonable time to correct lease violations; and protects terminally ill, elderly and disabled tenants from evictions for owner occupancy. Under SMRR leadership, Measure RR passed in 2010, with a two to one margin.
Again, with SMRR help, Measure GA was approved by more than 60% of the voters. Measure GA simplifies the Rent Control Board’s method of determining the annual rent increase; the increase for this year is only 1%.
Rent Control is funded solely by registration fees. This year, the Board found it necessary to increase the registration fee to $174.96. With SMRR’s input, it was decided that the portion to pass through to the tenants would remain at $13.00 per month, or $156.00 a year, with the remainder to be paid by the landlord. For the first time, the Board decided to require the landlords to participate in the registration fee payments.
Rent Control continues to protect tenants. SMRR, since the beginning, has been instrumental in maintaining renters rights, despite unceasing efforts to undermine it. Legal and Legislative challenges, such as the Ellis and Costa Hawkins (vacancy decontrol) Acts have taken their toll, but SMRR has always worked to find additional protections for renters.
To preserve Rent Control, eligible SMRR members need to come to the September 22, 2013 SMRR membership meeting and vote. Santa Monica has a proud tradition of maintaining our diverse city with rent control. Your help is needed to continue this proud tradition. Be at the Church in Ocean Park, where SMRR was born, this September 22, at 2 PM.