The West Hollywood City Council, which is drafting a rent control ordinance, has hired a private research firm to poll tenants and landlords for information about housing conditions.
"It's critical that we have the kind of information that can help us structure the new ordinance," said Mayor Valerie Terrigno.
Researchers from the Planning Group Inc., a Los Angeles firm, are expected to interview nearly 500 renters and 100 landlords before April 5, when the data will be made available to council members. Terrigno said the council will then have a week "to plug in whatever information we need" before introducing the rent control bill on April 11.
The council decided to hire the firm after it became apparent that basic information on housing conditions in West Hollywood was unavailable. "We've heard plenty of views lately," said Councilman Alan Viterbi, referring to recent public hearings on rent control issues, "but we don't have much in the way of hard facts."
According to the survey proposal, Planning Group researchers will question tenants about tenure, rents, annual increases and levels of maintenance in their apartment units. Researchers will also try to determine how tenants perceive apartment conditions and their landlords' responsiveness to complaints.
Landlords will be questioned about ownership patterns and repair and maintenance levels in West Hollywood apartments. Researchers will also ask them about problems they have had with tenants.
The survey was approved only after three council members--Steve Schulte, John Heilman and Helen Albert--joined to support an amendment requiring that it be finished by April 5. The three said they were were committed to having a rent control ordinance voted into law by May.
Terrigno and Viterbi agreed that the issue was urgent, but said they did not want to see the survey rushed. "I'd feel very uncomfortable if we didn't have all information we needed," Terrigno said.
But officials of the polling firm told the council they could provide nearly all the necessary information by April 5.
Heilman also criticized the survey's $20,000 price tag, claiming it cost $5,000 more than the council had originally intended to pay. But Viterbi replied, "The price is minimal when we're making such an important decision."