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City Attorney's Contract Has a Small Catch

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By Jorge Casuso

May 9, 2022 -- The proposed $320,000-a-year contract for incoming City Attorney Douglas Sloan has plenty of perks, including nine-months of severance pay, as well as 14 paid holidays and 21 vacation days a year.

But one seemingly enticing benefit -- a $3,000 per month rental housing allowance -- will do little good for the current Fresno City Manger, at least in Santa Monica.

That's because the contract covers a maximum of seven months for temporary rental housing "in Santa Monica (or as close to Santa Monica as possible if you are not able to obtain temporary rental housing within Santa Monica)."

And in Santa Monica, it's illegal to obtain temporary rental housing for seven months after the City Council passed a law in September 2020 requiring that residential leases be at least one year.

Which means that if Sloan hopes to live in the city he would serve while he searches for a permanent home, he'll likely need to pay the final five months out of pocket.

"All my apartments in Santa Monica rent for less than $3,000 a month," said Mathew Millen, a member of Progressive Landlords of Santa Monica.

"I would be pleased to rent a furnished apartment to our new City Attorney on a month-to-month basis for up to seven months.

"However, I don't want to spend six months in jail," Millen said. "So he really has a dilemma."

Fortunately for Sloan, in October 2020, the Council amended its restrictive new housing law to allow some leases that are less than a year.

The amended law exempts Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units for which plans are submitted for plan check before December 31, 2020 on parcels with single-unit dwellings occupied by the owner.

The units can be rented furnished or unfurnished for more than 30 days and less than one year as long as the owner remains on site during the rental, according to the amendment.

Once Sloan makes the move from Fresno -- with a $20,000 reimbursement for moving expenses -- he faces an even stiffer challenge.

He'll need to find a home "whether rented or owned, in Santa Monica, or as close as possible to Santa Monica."

The cheapest single family home listed on -- an 860-square-foot house on a 1,987-square-foot lot -- lists for $1.25 million.

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