by Rufus Baker, SMRR Member
“Santa Monica Renter Since 1959″–a SMRR member and beneficiary of rent control and renters’ rights since 1979–that’s me.
In recent years, SMRR has been a life saver in helping me survive and thrive as a SM renter.
Examples: Michael Tarbet guided me how to stay in my apartment home of 30 years when my mother passed and the landlord wanted to write a new lease and raise me to “market rent”. Thanks to SMRR, I’m still here (with my 5 cats!) at original base rent. Thanks to Patricia Hoffman who initially referred me to Michael Tarbet.
And Michael Soloff directed me to the POD program that now pays 70% of my rent on a monthly debit card.
After 62 years, SM is in my blood. As a child of the 1960s, I never aimed to make a lot of money, so now in my 70’s, I’m thankful SMRR protects me and others to afford to live here and stay active in our city.
From 1998 until 2020, I was a substitute teacher at all grades at all SMMUSD schools. Earlier, I was a reporter for SM newspapers, including the Evening Outlook and the Independent. For 25 years, I was part-time dispatcher and driver for SM Checker Cab.
My political activity began as a SAMOHI student, walking precincts in 1968 collecting “Dollars for Democrats”. I was on the SM Dem Club board, I worked to save the pier (although I admit I prefer the Redondo Pier), and Kevin McKeown named me to the Wilmont board before he ran for Council.
Jennifer Kennedy, who asked me to write this, first met me years ago outside the Will Rogers Post Office on Wilshire, where I’ve had a P.O. box since 1973, when she first ran for rent board.
Times change. In my early years here, SM landlords offered “3 months free rent” and “10 free books of Blue Chip stamps” to woo tenants. Those days are long gone. I am so thankful we still have SMRR to protect the many thousands of SM renters now and into the future.