Voters in Santa Monica will choose two members of the city's Rent Control Board and consider six ballot measures in the June 7 primary.
Two of the three candidates for the Rent Control Board are incumbent appointed commissioners; the third is a real estate agent who wants to see changes in the way the board works.
Dolores Press and Julie Lopez Dad were appointed to the board several months ago after two commissioners resigned. Both are running to remain in those seats but are being challenged by Keith Lambert.
The two top vote-getters will serve only until the November election, when the two seats will be up again.
Need for Fiscal Responsibility
Lambert, 26, a real estate agent who is new to city politics, said he was inspired to run because of what he said was a need for fiscal responsibility on the board.
Lambert, whose brother heads a landlords advocacy group, said the board should do more to encourage the creation of housing in the city.
Lopez Dad, 43, a business researcher, has been an active member of the Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights political faction and other community organizations for years.
Lopez Dad said she would work to safeguard Santa Monica's rent control law from efforts to weaken it by adding what is called vacancy decontrol--a provision that allows landlords to raise rents when tenants move out. Santa Monica's rent control law does not have that feature and for that reason is considered especially tough.
Press, 54, a labor union staffer, is co-chair of Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights and previously served on the Rent Control Board at its beginning, 1979-81.
Seeking to Trim Budget
Press said the board has been working to find ways to trim its budget.
She also said she plans to work on behalf of a ballot initiative that sponsors hope to get on the November ballot. The initiative would bring two- and three-unit buildings, which currently are exempt when the owner lives there, under rent control and would limit landlords' discretion to evict tenants in favor of installing relatives.
Lopez Dad also supports the proposed initiative. Lambert said he did not favor it because it would hurt first-time home buyers, who he said tend to buy those smaller buildings as a way to supplement mortgage payments.
The five-member Rent Control Board was established in 1979, the year Santa Monicans voted rent control into law. It is the body that sets rent control policies.
Among the ballot measures, only one has generated significant debate.
Change in Council Elections
Controversy surrounds Proposition J, a proposal to change City Council election procedures.
If the measure is approved, a candidate for City Council would run for a specific numbered seat rather than having all candidates run en masse for available seats.
Under the new system, proposed by Councilman Alan Katz, the elections would still be at large and geographic districts would not be created.
Katz maintains the current election procedure creates a "mob scene" that favors slates and puts independent candidates at a disadvantage.
The measure has drawn criticism from local chapters of the NAACP and the Mexican-American Political Assn., who favor changing election procedures to include drawing up districts.
Another ballot measure, Proposition N, would raise City Council members' pay from $50 to $600 a month and give the mayor a raise from $150 to $700 a month.
Proposition O would establish a stipend for planning commissioners of $25 per meeting, not to exceed $100 a month.
Three other ballot measures would increase limits on spending by the city for police and protective services; capital improvements such as street maintenance, lighting and parks, and a fund to help tenants whose rental units are being converted.