Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

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By David Ganezer
Observer Staff Writer 

Fight Over Dueling Rent Increase Proposals Threatens to Split Santa Monicans for Renters Rights

Organization that runs Santa Monica for the last 43 years, now searches its soul for answers over equity and who should bear the cost of inflation.

 

August 3, 2022

Alyssa Erdley

A 1980's era apartment building in Downtown Santa Monica.

The Santa Monicans for Renters Rights is bitterly divided over competing proposals for this year's annual rent increase.

At a time of high inflation, some members of SMRR, the organization that has run Santa Monica since 1979, want to raise all tenants 2.5%, an adjustment that is only about a quarter of this years increase in the cost of living i.e. inflation rate. Another faction of SMRR argues that high income tenants, for example those paying $5000 a month for a two bedroom in a recent Pack and Stack, corporate commercial development in downtown Santa Monica, should have a 10% increase. Meanwhile the tenants living in older buildings, which tend to be owned by older mom and pop type landlords, should have no increase at all.

The Catherine Apartments, a Pack and Stack newly completed development in Downtown Santa Monica, offers 2 bedroom apartments for $5000 a month.

The Santa Monica Rent Control Board rejected a proposal to provide Zero percent rent increase for low income tenants, in favor of reducing rents for all income levels.

With Councilperson Negrete's proposal, rents would not have increased for the lower income 50% of the city's 27,484 controlled rental units. This means 13,742 units in the city would have had no rent increase. Board members supported by SMRR (Santa Monicans for Renters Rights) voiced opposition to this plan.

The subject came up at the City Council meeting as well. "We're having to right now fix a problem that was implemented by Councils and Rent Control Boards that were controlled by SMRR" de la Torre said. "We have a tremendous opportunity to provide a tremendous amount of relief, more than being proposed" under the original proposal, de la Torre said. "It falls in line with our values as a city in terms of equity."

The City Council will take up the issue again at their special meeting on Wednesday August 3.

 

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