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|Santa Monica Rent Board Endorses State Bills to Turn Back Clock on Housing Lease Laws|
By Jonathan Friedman
March 24, 2017 -- Santa Monica Assemblymember Richard Bloom’s bill that would allow for the return of extreme rental housing price control eliminated two decades ago has received a mixed reaction statewide.
Costa-Hawkins outlawed the policy of vacancy control in which a rent ceiling price could remain on a unit even when there was tenant turnover.
The board heard from several landlords who said Costa-Hawkins is a good thing. Pat Cramer said in “the rent control battle days” before 1996, “nobody could find a unit” to lease.
“There were no signs,” he said. “There was probably discrimination. If there was a sign, you’d have 50 people show up. You’d end up taking the highest income people. You’d rent it as is."
Another landlord said property owners were unable to do upkeep on buildings because they were receiving such a small amount of money from tenants.
He said Santa Monica rightfully earned the nickname at the time, “Skid Row by the Sea.”
Commissioner Todd Flora dismissed these comments, saying they came from “ideological folks that are interested in preserving the existing law.”
He also noted that housing prices would not be going down to the levels of 20 years ago if Bloom's bill became law.
“The great amounts of money that property owners are making now because of Costa-Hawkins are not going to be taken away,” Flora said.
He continued, “Cities would simply have the power to re-engage vacancy control.”
Bloom, who served on the Santa Monica City Council from 1998 to 2010, introduced the bill last month with co-writers Assemblymen David Chiu (D–San Francisco) and Rob Bonta (D-Oakland).
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