Santa Monica council members approved resolutions last Tuesday that would formally place on the ballot a proposed City Charter amendment to alter Santa Monica’s rent control law.
The council directed staff last week to return to chambers with prepared resolutions of how the City Charter would be amended. Those resolutions were formally adopted Tuesday evening.
The resolutions were approved one week after the council considered a Rent Control Board request to place on the November ballot an initiative that would amend the City Charter to set ceilings on charged rents and make it easier to understand how annual adjustments are made.
If approved by Santa Monica voters on Nov. 6, the ballot measure would amend the City Charter to limit general adjustments for rent-controlled units to 75 percent of the annual percentage change of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) with a zero to six percent adjustment range. The Rent Control Board would also have the “discretion, after holding a public hearing, to impose a dollar limit, within that (zero to six percent) range.”
Resolution “A” would present the amendment in question to voters, asking them whether or not they would like to approve the proposed changes to the rent control law.
The proposed proposition would ask: “Shall the City Charter be amended to allow the annual rent control general adjustment to be based on 75 (percent) of the annual percentage change in the Consumer Price Index, but limited to an adjustment between 0 (percent) and 6 (percent); and to give the Rent Control Board discretion, after a public hearing, to impose a dollar limit, within the 0-6 (percent) range, calculated using the same formula employed when imposing a limit under the existing general adjustment formula?
“If adopted, this measure would make less complicated the annual rent control general adjustment process. It would also make the annual adjustment methodology easier to understand,” a City staff report stated.
The last time the rent control law was amended was in 1984.
“For nearly thirty years, the Rent Control Board has implemented (the rent control law) by using a complex methodology known as the ‘component ratio to gross rent’ formula,” a staff report said. “However, over the years both the Rent Control Board and its staff have observed that actual changes in expenses may be determined for only a small portion of landlords' expenses considered under the current methodology.
“Further, the survey process required to determine those expense changes is both costly and time consuming. The Rent Control Board and staff believe that the present formula is so complex that it makes results unpredictable and difficult to understand,” the report continued.
Under law, between one and five council members may be allowed to submit arguments in favor or against the ballot measure. As four council members are up for election in November, Mayor Richard Bloom said the argument could only be written by any of the three other members.
Council member Pam O’Connor opted to draft the argument in favor of the charter amendment; council members Kevin McKeown and Bob Holbrook were also both eligible to draft the argument. McKeown stated he is out of town when the statement is due.
A second resolution – Resolution “B” – was also adopted as part of this agenda item. That resolution “requests that the County of Los Angeles consolidate all aspects of the General Municipal Election with the Statewide General Election, which will also be conducted on November 6, 2012.”
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