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Santa Monica Rent Board Again Tables Measure to Expand Rent Control
By Jorge Casuso
April 17, 2018 -- The Santa Monica Rent Control Board last week once again tabled a motion, this time indefinitely, supporting a ballot measure to expand rent control in the beach city.
The move, made during a meeting packed with landlords on Thursday, came after the Board tabled a similar motion at its March 22 meeting, saying it needed more time for consideration ("Santa Monica Rent Control Board Tables Vote on Measure to Expand to More Units," March 23, 2018).
The Board was concerned about the future of the "Affordable Housing Act," a proposed state initiative to repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which allows most vacant rent control units to fetch market rates, Rent Board officials said.
"There was so much uncertainty about the Affordable Housing Act, (the Board) decided to wait and see what happens," said Tracy Condon, the Rent Board's administrator.
Had the Board voted, it would have been in an advisory capacity, since the motion was to ask the City Council to place a proposed charter amendment on the November ballot.
The local measure would only go into effect if California voters were to approve the "Affordable Housing Act" supporters hope to place on the November ballot.
The item was expected to draw the support of tenant activists and opposition from landlords, who have been fighting the City's Rent Conrol law since it was approved by voters in 1978.
The law, which was substantially weakened when Costa-Hawkins went into full effect in 1999, could be expanded if the state measure is approved.
Costa-Hawkins, which allows landlords to raise the rents to market rates when a unit is voluntarily vacated or a tenant is evicted for not paying, also exempts single-family homes and newer buildings from rent-control laws such as Santa Monica's.
If the state initiative passes, cities would be able to impose rent control on houses, condominiums and newer apartment buildings.
Last Thursday, supporters of the "Affordable Housing Act" staged a rally in Downtown Los Angeles after reporting last month that they had gathered at least 25 percent of the 365,880 signatures they hope to gather by June 25.
The measure is backed by the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation in partnership with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, a community-organizing group.
Michael Weinstein, who oversees the $1.3 billion foundation, has spent tens of millions of dollars on ballot initiatives that tackle health care and housing issues.
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