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Council Should Study Why Housing Units Leave Santa Monica Rental Market, Staff Says
Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Roque & Mark Real Estate
2802 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
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Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

August 5, 2016 -- With the number of housing units being removed from the rental market in Santa Monica via the Ellis Act on the rise, City staff says a study should be conducted on what factors are leading to this trend.

A recommendation will go to the City Council on Tuesday to authorize a study that could cost as much as $80,000.

The idea for the study came from Nicole Phillis, chair of the Rent Control Board.

She received the support of her colleagues on the board last month to pass a resolution calling for the study (“Santa Monica Rent Board Demands Ellis Act Study,” July 15, 2016).

“Given that [the] council has identified inclusion and diversity as a top strategic goal, including preserving affordable housing, City staff joins the Rent Control Board to request [the] council authorize staff to initiate [the] study,” the recommendation to the council states.

The recommendation states the study would examine “what factors are contributing to this increase in units being removed from the market under the Ellis Act and how the City might develop new public policies to protect affordable housing in the community.”

Passed three decades ago, the Ellis Act is a State law that allows landlords to leave the rental business and evict tenants in the process.

There are some restrictions to the law, but overall it has withstood court challenges, including from the City of Santa Monica.

Since the passage of the Ellis Act, more than 2,000 rent-controlled units have been removed from the Santa Monica market, according to a report from the rent board released earlier this year.

This includes the removal of 153 units in 2015, up from 85 in 2014 and 29 in 2013.

“I have noticed a lot of discussion in the community about ways in which zoning changes, initiatives and the Downtown Community Plan would affect rent control and whether it would lead to an onslaught of Ellis activity,” said Phillis at the June rent board meeting when she introduced her idea for the study.

She added, “There’s a whole heck of a lot of speculation on what will happen, and we don’t have the information. We don’t have the data. We haven’t run the analysis.”

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