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Phillis Resigns from Santa Monica Rent Board

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By Jorge Casuso

May 16, 2022 -- Rent Control Board member Nicole Phillis unexpectedly resigned Thursday night, bidding a tearful farewell six months before completing her final term.

Phillis, who was first elected in 2014 did not give a reason for her departure, but Board Chair Anastasia Foster wished her well on the move to "a new neighborhood and region" in the "heart of LA."

During her parting comments Phillis urged her colleagues not to fill the vacancy left by her resignation on the five-member Board and, instead, let the voters pick a replacement in November.

"It would give an unfair advantage for someone to be appointed in July of this year and head to an election with a seat that should have been open because I am terming out," Phillis said.

"I hope that that decision will continue to allow people who run for democratize office (and) who don't necessaily play insider baseball to serve in Santa Monica," said Phillis, who was twice elected with the support of Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR).

There will be three open seats on the November 8 ballot -- those currently filled by Phillis and Boardmember Steve Duron, who cannot run for reelection under the 8-year term limit.

The seat currently occupied by Naomi Sultan, who is completing her first term, is also on the ballot.

In March, the Rent Board proposed changes to the City Charter that would, among other things, increase term limits for Board members from two to three full terms to fall in line with local, county and state laws ("Proposed Charter Amendment Requires All Units to Register with Rent Board," March 16, 2022).

Among the accomplishments Phillis listed in her 2018 reelection bid were leading "passthrough reform to save renters money" and initiating a "rule to ban renting controlled units to corporations."

"I am with a heavy heart resigning effective upon the adjournment of this meeting tonight," Phillis said during her final comments at the end of the meeting.

A Santa Monica renter, Phillis said she has been proud "to represent people who often are unheard and unrepresented in City government.

"I appreciate the openness and inclusiveness of this board," Phillis said. "I think it has long been a place where real grassroots activists do the less glamorous work that keeps our residents in the City. And that is what I love about it."

"I'm grateful for the opportunities to have served with you all. I'm really proud of the work we're done together and leaving Santa Monica is very, very bittersweet."

According to the City Clerk and Rent Control Board administrator, Phillis, litigator at Davis Wright Tremaine, has not yet formally submitted her resignation in writing.

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