• Name: Christopher D. Walton
• Age: 53
• Occupation: Attorney
• Neighborhood in which you live: The Shores (Ocean Park/Main Street area)
• Own or rent: Rent
• Marital status/kids: Married/no children
• Obama or Romney: Obama
• Education: Where did you attend and what degrees do you have? Santa Monica College; Midwestern State University, B.A.; Loyola Marymount University, M.B.A.; Southwestern University, J.D.; Oxford University
• Why are you running for the Rent Control Board and what would you like to accomplish if elected?
1) To unseat and defeat any anti-tenant candidates. This is my number one priority.
2) To protect, strengthen and improve rent control for myself, family, neighbors and community.
3) To help balance the board’s budget while saving the financial reserve for a truly rainy day. No organization should be permitted to operate with a deficit budget. Difficult decisions must be carefully considered including: increasing registration fees, passing all or some of the increases through to property owners, sharing fee increases between tenants and landlords, and making painful budget cuts. Nothing should be beyond consideration. I’ve studied the current, approved, unbalanced budget and there is not much fat to cut. Hence, revenue increases are of paramount importance to restoring fiscal health to the board. My education and experience in finance and accounting will facilitate these difficult decisions. Balancing the budget is one of my top priorities.
4) To ensure that all five seats on the board are held by commissioners who are zealously dedicated to protect and enhance renter’s rights.
5) To continue my tradition of public service, in a more visible manner.
• What is your definition of a “fair return” for landlords and do you believe the current formula for calculating annual rent increases or adjustments provides a fair return?
A fair return is keeping up with the rate of inflation. The new formula will provide a fair return.
• Should the annual rent adjustment or increase be based on real costs (such as registration fees, bonds, parcel taxes) and the consumer price index or on a percentage of CPI as has been proposed by the current board?
Percentage of CPI.
Reading, motorcycles and playing with my dog.
• Should rent control be based on a person’s income instead of length of tenancy? If so, do you think that will ever happen or is rent control pretty much set in stone?
We lost true rent control when the vacancy decontrol bill was passed some years ago. Current rent control is not really based on length of tenancy. Most renters enjoy the benefits of rent control, albeit at the new market rate of rent. Longtime tenants do still enjoy true rent control. I would prefer to go back to the days of real rent control and affordable housing, back to the days before vacancy decontrol. Perhaps income should be one of several factors in crafting fair, affordable rental rates. All ideas merit consideration in the market place of ideas.
• As more apartments are rented at market rate, is the board’s role being diminished?
The board’s statutory missions have not changed. The work of the board is essential to our city.
• What is your plan to trim the Rent Control Board’s budget? The board recently approved a budget that is over $360,000 in the red.
Increase revenues by zealous collection efforts and small increase in registration fees. Cutting any fat in the budget, although there does not appear to be much obvious fat.
• What is a fair amount landlords should be able to ask for when collecting a security deposit?
One month’s rent seems fair.
• What are you reading?
“Catching Fire,” by Suzanne Collins, and “Arctic Drift” by Clive Cussler.
• There are stories of wealthy people holding onto their rent-controlled apartments in Santa Monica so they can use them as summer houses when they actually live in another city or state. How often should a person be sleeping at their rent-controlled apartment to maintain it? Should these tenants be evicted?
Below market-rate rentals should be occupied by their tenants and not be used strictly as vacation homes for people who live in other cities or states. I don’t like the “how many nights do you sleep there?” as the sole test for determining residency. All factors should be considered such as legal domicile, voter registration, driver’s license, how often you sleep there, real property ownership, etc. I want to protect tenants, not evict them. If someone is using their below-market rental strictly as a vacation home, perhaps it would be fair to increase their rent.
• If you could ride the Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier with three people in history, who would they be and what would you want to talk about?
President Clinton, President Obama and the Dalai Lama. I would discuss economics and government with the presidents. With the Dalai Lama I would discuss how best to walk the path that leads to wisdom, compassion and enlightenment.
• The Rent Control Board must give its approval for the owner of the Village Trailer Park to close up shop and build a mixed-use housing development. Will you vote in favor of closure or not?
It is not appropriate to say how I would vote on any particular issue facing the board. I would consider the law and all available reports and arguments and make a just decision. I would put aside my personal views and vote based upon the rule of law. That said, I am personally in favor of keeping the Village Trailer Park open.