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Give Me a Break!

May 26, 1985

Give me a break, Peter Gauronskas (Times, May 19)!

Don't tell me that due to what's happening in West Hollywood, The Times' readership will have to endure the same barrage of rent control letters and arguments to which we were subjected six years ago when Santa Monica's rent control law first took effect.

But since Mr. Gauronskas feels that West Hollywood's purpose in adopting local rent control "is an admirable and noble act by the city," he will no doubt be relieved to hear that he is totally incorrect regarding the unconstitutionality of local governments' abilities to enact rent controls. So say the jurists of California's courts system, who, after all, are our society's experts on the interpretation of its various constitutions.

As a Santa Monica resident, it is surprising that Mr. Gauronskas does not remember that the constitutionality of municipally imposed rent freezes and rollbacks had been judicially validated in California even prior to the adoption of Santa Monica's rent ordinance, which also featured a freeze and rollback at the time of its inception.

Interesting also that Mr. Gauronskas cites gasoline stations and cleaners as examples of enterprises which take for granted the "fundamental" right of free-market prices. Interesting because Mr. Gauronskas seems to have forgotten that until relatively recently the price of gasoline in this country had been heavily regulated for quite some time.

Granted, cleaners are totally unregulated. But, with all due apologies to the cleaning industry, the residents of West Hollywood evidently have grown tired of being taken to the cleaners by their landlords, who will now resultingly face constitutionally permissible rent regulation by that city.

WILLIAM F. WEINGARDEN

Santa Monica

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