The City Council has voted 4 to 1 to direct Councilmen George Barks and Gary Brutsch to meet with the owners and tenants of the Pepper Tree Apartments to try to resolve a dispute over rent increases amounting to about 25% this year.
Mayor Jack Wood opposed any intervention in the matter and voted against authorizing a mediation meeting. Wood also affirmed his stance against any kind of rent control in Hermosa Beach--a position that was echoed by Councilmen Barks, John Cioffi and Tony DeBellis.
The action came after several of the nearly two dozen Pepper Tree tenants at the meeting unsuccessfully urged the council to adopt an ordinance limiting the number of increases to one per year.
"What we are dealing with here is a landlord who is very greedy," charged tenant Marty Estrin, whose rent on a one-bedroom apartment increased from $525 to $590 on April 1 and to $660 beginning next week. "The consequences of this may be very important for this city because the message that goes out is that greed wins."
Barks brought the matter to the council after he was contacted by tenants at the complex, which is on both Pacific Coast Highway and Ardmore Avenue.