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Rent Law Changes Must Be Rejected

May 06, 1990

It was recently reported that landlord groups are planning an initiative campaign in Santa Monica to change the rent control law to allow "vacancy decontrol." As a co-chair of Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR), the organization that won rent control in 1979, I urge Santa Monica residents not to sign the initiative.

The landlords want us to believe that vacancy decontrol will protect against Ellis Act evictions, but there is no guarantee in their initiative. Rising real estate values will continue to spur Ellis evictions in order to build condominiums.

The landlords want us to believe that current tenants will be protected against harassment. However, with vacancy decontrol, unscrupulous landlords will have a huge monetary incentive to "encourage" current tenants to leave if they can get two or three times more from the next tenant.

These are two specific reasons to oppose this initiative, but the most important reason is that vacancy decontrol is bad policy for the community as a whole. With vacancy decontrol, within a few years we would see rent levels in Santa Monica surge beyond those in West Los Angeles. Santa Monica would become a haven for the very rich, and the diversity we cherish would be gone forever.

At the same time, we in SMRR recognize that conditions have changed since 1979. Some changes may be needed in rent control. SMRR is working right now on proposals to make rent control work better for everyone, tenants and landlords, in the future.

Overall, our rent control law has worked well to keep rents affordable to people of all income groups and ages. Most of us couldn't afford to live here without it. It must be maintained.

This vacancy decontrol initiative tears the heart out of the rent control law. It must be rejected. Please do not sign it.


SMRR co-chairman

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