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Negrete Pulls Proposal to Address Rent Increases

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By Jorge Casuso

August 1, 2022 -- Five days after igniting a firestorm with a last-minute proposal to address near record rent increases, Councilmember Lana Negrete has pulled her plan.

In an open latter Sunday night, Negrete said she would table her proposed Charter Amendment that would have based the annual adjustment on a rent control unit's Maximum Allowable Rent (MAR).

Her move to replace the methodology used by the Rent Board for four decades to determine annual adjustments met with stiff opposition from both Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR) and Santa Monica Forward, which planned to stage a rally at City Hall Tuesday.

"I realize there needs to be a more robust conversation and a much more in-depth look at what the future of rent control looks like with our community," Negrete wrote ("Open Letter from Councilmember Lana Negrete," August 1, 2022).

"I want to make clear my goal is to reinforce rent control, strengthen tenant protections and apply a more functionally equitable methodology.

"For now I am suggesting my proposal get tabled and I’m hopeful that Wednesday the council will put forward the path that gives all renters uniform relief and stability, such as the rent control board’s proposal," Negrete wrote.

SMRR's proposal -- floated by Rent Board members Anastasia Foster and Caroline Torosis -- calls for an across the board rent increase of 3 percent, instead of the 6 percent mandated by the City Charter, with a $140 cap.

Under Negrete's plan, the 13,741 tenants paying rents below the MAR (about half the tenants) would pay nothing, while those paying above the MAR would pay the 6 percent increase with the same cap ("Last Minute Rent Proposal Triggers Political Firestorm," July 28, 2022).

At the Council meeting Tuesday night, Negrete's proposal -- which was made public when her email to the City Manager leaked -- triggered intense opposition from Santa Monica's political establishment.

SMRR mobilized its troops to oppose the measure, and the Rent Board General Council called it "unconstitutional" because it may not provide "a fair share of return for our property owners."

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