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Rent Board Sets Annual Adjustment, Explores Freeze
By Jorge Casuso
May 20, 2020 -- The Santa Monica Rent Control Board asked staff on Thursday to explore the possibility of a rent freeze before voting to allow landlords to increase rents by 1.4 percent next month.
The proposed increase -- which will likely be capped at $32 per month for rents of $2,250 and higher -- is based on a calculation called for in the rent control charter.
The adjustment must be equal to 75 percent of the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the region, said Board administrator Tracy Condon.
But with many tenants strapped by the coronavirus shutdown, Board members asked staff to explore whether the City Council or County Board of Supervisors could evoke emergency powers to freeze the rents.
"We owe it to the public to be talking about it," said Board Chair Nicole Phillis. "We should at least address it."
Board member Caroline Torosis said she was hopeful the Board could "liaise" with the Council "to protect all of out tenants."
"It's a really difficult time," she said. "I also understand it's a difficult time for landlords."
Last week the LA County Board of Supervisors extended an executive order that places a temporary rent freeze on rent stabilized units in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County.
Condon noted that any immediate actions taken by the County would likely not be in place when Santa Monica's rent adjustments kick in on September 1.
"Given the current state of all applicable emergency orders and moratoria, this report must be, and is, written under the assumption that the 2020 general adjustment will go into effect as set forth in the Charter," Condon wrote.
But she added that "actual implementation of the adjustment may be affected by later events."
The Board is scheduled to finalize the rent adjustments at it June 11 meeting.
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