Santa Monica Daily Press,
Thank you for your great work.
I have friends and neighbors who are tenants who would like to buy the apartments they are renting. I understand that historically Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights was opposed to tenant ownership (TORCA) conversions as it reduces the rental stock. However, with vacancy decontrol and the ease of redevelopment, that opposition should be re-examined to see whether it is truly in the interest of existing, lower rent tenants. I am sure the tenants who were recently displaced by the redevelopment at San Vicente Boulevard and Ocean Avenue would have loved to have bought their units, but now they have nothing, except a grim search for new, far less desirable accommodations.
Over time the stock of rent-controlled units in the city will gradually decline, and the stock of low-rent units will decline even faster. The city can do something now to allow such tenants to feel secure, build equity and leave something of value to their children.
To some, TORCA (Tenant Ownership Rights Charter Amendment) is like a third rail of Santa Monica politics, but perhaps it is time for a serious reevaluation of what is really in the best interest for tenants. I am sure that those tenants who bought their units in the past are forever grateful, and continue to show their gratitude at the ballot box to those who made it possible. However, the same might not be true of new, market-rate tenants.
As redevelopment of old apartments progresses they are replaced by condos for the rich, or low-income housing for the poor, and thus slowly the working and middle classes are being squeezed out. The existing rental stock, when converted via TORCA, will never be desired by the wealthy, but is very attractive to middle and working class families.