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Council Candidates Weigh in on Future of Rent Control


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October 23, 2018 -- If California voters repeal Costa-Hawkins by approving Proposition 10, cities with rent control would have the authority to expand their laws. But should that include new buildings? Council candidates weigh in.

10. Proposition 10 would allow cities like Santa Monica to expand rent control. If California voters approve the measure, should the City control rents in new multi-family residential buildings?

Scott Bellomo

I have rented, owned, and currently rent in Santa Monica. I am not comfortable with Prop 10 as I feel it will accelerate Ellis claims. I am willing to hear debate on how we should approach rent control so that landlords have an incentive to stay in the rental business, but also provide safeguards for the elderly, people on fixed incomes and disability, and people with school-aged children for whom it is important to have the continuity of remaining in the same school system.

Instead of going back to the framework that existed before Costa-Hawkins, perhaps the application of the more restrictive rent control laws could be based on the number of units owned by a given owner (including units owned by any related entities). This might provide some relief to “mom and pop” landlords while maintaining control over large companies and REITs.

Sue Himmelrich

I support Proposition 10 and have supported its goal -- repeal of Costa Hawkins -- since the legislature refused to pass it out of committee. I understand the negative effect of imposing rent control on new residential buildings and do not support those controls.

I do, however, support the concept of “rolling” rent control, under which a building would become rent controlled after 15 or 20 years; this allows a developer to recoup its investment but caps later return on investment.

I also support a de minimis tax of 4% on units renting at current market rates that would allow us to expand our affordable housing funds by millions of dollars and allow us to create local housing opportunities for the many low income workers who support our local economy as well as protect long term tenants from losing their homes.

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Kevin McKeown

Santa Monica is out in front on plans for possible passage of Prop 10, thanks to thoughtful work from the Rent Control Board and City Council. We won’t allow sudden changes threatening existing tenancies, if Prop 10 passes, nor will we allow continuation of the market excesses that have led to the cry “The rent is too damn high!”

If there are compelling reasons rents should still go up upon a vacancy, perhaps we can limit the amount, or restrict increases to only those units that haven’t been super-priced by vacancy decontrol under the Costa-Hawkins Act, which Prop 10 repeals. Perhaps we could capture any market rent windfalls to help fund deed-restricted affordable housing.

If we adopt controlled rents on new buildings, perhaps that should kick in after some period of time to allow return on construction investment before rents are stabilized.

Greg Morena

Yes, the City should control rents in new multi-family residential buildings, but there must be a balance between affordable and market rate units. Families and long time residents are being priced out of Santa Monica. If we want to create a city that our children can one day hope to live in, we need rent control on new buildings.

Pam O'Connor

It would be prudent to first understand the state of the existing housing stock and which buildings (year of construction) could be covered by an expansion of rent control. Rent control has enabled hundreds of thousands of people to have stable homes in Santa Monica over the past almost 40 years.

Families, such as my sister’s, raised their children in Santa Monica in rent controlled units. And as a single woman of modest means, I like many others, have been able to reside in Santa Monica because of rent control.

Ashley Powell

Housing should be for people, not for profit. However, we live in a capitalist society and we need to find a balance between no growth and over development.

I know when I attended USC that I learned best from not my peers planning to go into public sector or nonprofit but the ones who were urban planners and real estate development students with a scattering of MBAs.

I always knew that I was not going to be a billion dollar business person but I decided a long time ago that I would try to make an effect on housing and homelessness my personal mission.

I do not think prop 10 will be enough to change our current crisis but I think it is a great start. In school I had to do projects with students who did not share my values and when it comes to this election I stand for collaboration between public/private/nonprofit as a key component to success. It is proven to work and I will fight to help those without housing be housed and those with the incentives to build to build what is appropriate for this success.

Furthermore, people are really excited about Prop 10 (except for the landlords of course) and the housing policy advocates are pushing for a yes vote.

The downside: The LAO report emphasizes the loss in tax revenue, which is probably an important consideration but still has to be weighed against the magnitude of the housing crisis and findings in the prop.

So we need tax dollars to solve the housing crisis, but we also need to control rent increases. It’s good that it gives more control to local governments to set limits because they know what’s going on in their jurisdiction and can create appropriate legislation. I’ll vote yes on it. However, this is not the only solution. We need more affordable housing and transitional housing.


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