Congratulations to all AAGLA members that attended and/or sent emails to the Santa Monica Rent Control Board for their meeting on March 22nd. Your voices made a major difference and caused the Rent Control Board to think twice about it’s actions! The Rent Control Board was considering two very harmful proposals to rental housing providers in Santa Monica.
The first was a proposal to support the elimination of vacancy de-control, which allows owners of rent controlled properties to raise the rent for a unit to market rate when a tenant vacates. By eliminating this policy and returning to vacancy control, the City would require owners of rent controlled properties to maintain below market rates for their units in perpetuity. As a result, our members would never be able to raise rents despite the continually rising costs to maintain the units (property taxes, insurance, maintenance, seismic retrofit, garbage collection, etc.), which would cripple their ability to rely on their property to support themselves for retirement or to help raise their children.
The second was a proposal to stop allowing rental housing providers to pass through surcharges to existing tenants. These surcharges are related to bond measures and parcel taxes passed by all residents of Santa Monica, which directly benefit tenants by creating better schools and cleaner beaches. While these surcharges generally are small per tenant, they would be a major financial burden to rental housing providers if they had to suddenly pay the surcharges for their entire building. Further, it had been previously agreed between the major tenant’s group, Santa Monicans for Renter’s Rights (SMRR) and the rental housing provider community that owners would not fight bond measures provided that they were allowed to pass through the resulting surcharges to tenants. To change the arrangement now after the bonds have been passed would be greatly unfair and would breach the original agreement between the two groups.
Based on the outpouring of opposition from AAGLA’s members and others in the rental housing provider community, the Rent Control Board decided not to take a formal position on either issue. Instead, they instructed staff to conduct further research on both issues and report back. While the fight isn’t over, it was a major win to have the Rent Control Board re-think it’s proposed actions. Thank you to everyone that joined us in voicing their opposition and achieving this reprieve!