Re your report (Times, Jan. 30) that a Santa Monica landlords' organization has collected enough signatures to force a June election on a measure allowing vacancy decontrol, with rent increases to be shared among remaining tenants: This story and the events surrounding it provide us with a political morality play.
First, we have the Santa Monicans for Renters Rights, who rose to power in 1979 by appealing to voters' pocketbooks. To stay in power they targeted a minority group (apartment owners) for official persecution and harassment. Apartment owners are now seeking relief by SMRR's own methods: appealing to voters' pocketbooks. SMRR is hysterical . . . they will now have to explain to voters why accepting money from landlords in the form of hard cash is bad, while accepting money from landlords in the form of rent subsidies is good.
Meanwhile, back at City Hall, the moderates on the council, led by a weak mayor, have capitulated to SMRR doctrine and joined hands with the radicals. Together they denounce vacancy decontrol, while in the (same issue of the) Westside (section) . . . we read: "Motion picture and television production companies wanting to use Santa Monica Airport as a location must pay a user fee of $600 per day, the Santa Monica council decided last week. . . . The $600 fee will be in addition to the $400 permit fee." So it's not that they're against raising rents in principle, you see; it's just a matter of who does it.
And the moral of this tale is that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.