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Talk to Russians About Rent Control

February 02, 1992

So former Santa Monica Rent Board member Susan Packer Davis says, "It's not such a heinous crime to have a certain chunk of our apartments renting for $300 to $350," ("A Tough-as-Nails Approach Softens a Little," The Times, Jan. 9).

Sorry, ma'am, it's as much of a crime as the price controls that prevailed in the now-defunct Soviet Union for the last 70 years--especially when the apartments are worth two to five times that price.

The rent increases, $524 to $616 for one- and two-bedroom units north of Wilshire, are a joke--but not so funny considering they have no effect until tenants vacate. My guess is that so long as this arbitrary and capricious price fixing continues, landlords will continue to keep their units off the market. The 66 applications for the new rents do not signify a trend.

Rent Board members ought to take a junket to Russia, talk to President Boris N. Yeltsin, look at the housing situation there, come back and do what they then will know to be right: Let vacated apartments rent at market rates. Short of funds? Let me be the first to donate 50 bucks toward board members' air fare to Moscow provided they promise to take notes.

NORMAN JACOBSON

Los Angeles

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