CITY HALL — Rent Control Board Commissioner Robert Kronovet says he will vote on the annual “general adjustment” — the maximum rent increase the board allows — despite a finding by California’s Fair Political Practices Commission that doing so would violate the state’s Political Reform Act.

In a letter sent to the Rent Control Agency on April 30, the commission said Kronovet should abstain from voting on the annual rent increase because, as the owner of a rent-controlled, 6-unit apartment building, he stands to benefit financially from the board’s decision.

“Commissioner Kronovet may not make, participate in making, or influence decisions regarding the annual rent increase because the governmental decisions will have a reasonably foreseeable material financial effect on his residential rental properties,” the commission stated.

On Tuesday, Kronovet said he has eliminated the potential for a conflict of interest by deciding not to increase his tenants’ rent. He said he would also not apply the permitted increase at a later date and would bar any potential new owner of his building from taking advantage of this year’s increase.

“I have eliminated, eradicated, wiped out, any possible conflict or financial gain” attributable to the general adjustment, Kronovet said in an interview.

He said there is “no circumstance outside of a police officer arresting me” that would prevent him from taking part in the vote.

Contacted on Tuesday, Roman Porter, the executive director of the FPPC, said Kronovet should contact his agency before making a decision about whether to vote on the rent increase. Each violation of the Political Reform Act, Porter said, can result in a fine of up to $5,000.

Porter declined to comment on the specifics of Kronovet’s claim that he has eliminated the conflict of interest by forgoing the rent increase, but said: “I would advise Mr. Kronovet to once again contact the FPPC if he believes he has come upon a method of voting on this item where he will not have a conflict of interest.”

The Rent Control Board is set to discuss Kronovet’s situation at its meeting on Thursday. The board could ask staff to seek further information from the FPPC before the rent increase vote, scheduled for June 1.

Two Rent Control Board commissioners, Korade-Wilson and Christopher Braun, live in rent-controlled apartments but aren’t barred from participating in the rent increase decision under FPPC rules, according to Michaelyn Jones, the rent control agency’s general counsel.

Braun won’t be affected by this year’s rent increase because of a pre-existing lease agreement. Korade-Wilson, who is a month-to-month tenant, will be subject to the increase but is not considered to have a conflict, Jones said.

The FPPC doesn’t consider those without leases to have material interests in property, and therefore doesn’t consider month-to-month tenants to have special interests in decisions affecting rents, she said.

nickt@www.smdp.com

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