(File photo)

Santa Monica’s Rent Control Board formed a subcommittee comprised of local commissioners who have been tasked with finding a replacement for the board’s general counsel.

The Rent Control Board met last week for its second meeting since June 11, when the board adopted its 2020-2021 Operating Budget. Like July’s meeting though, the agenda was a lot lighter than usual since the board only took up discussion on two items outside of the meeting’s public comment period.

Attorney Stephen Lewis is set to retire in November, meaning the board has only a few months to find a sufficient replacement for the position, which is responsible for acting as a legal advisor and counsel for the Rent Control Board and Administrator; represents the Board in litigation; manages, directs, plans and organizes the Legal Department; and participates in recommending and implementing policy changes.

“In the past when we did this, the board established a subcommittee of two commissioners, who assisted in reviewing the applications and helped us make those initial decisions,” Executive Director Tracy Condon said, detailing how the subcommittee would be involved in reviewing applications but all of the board members would participate in candidate interviews and be a part of the decision making process.

Commissioner Anastasia Foster immediately expressed interest in being on the subcommittee and shared she believes it’s important to get a feel for how the candidates’ attitude and goals mesh with the board.

“I think it is absolutely important to have a nonlawyer on the subcommittee… (because) I think a non-attorney such as myself could have a lot to say about narrowing down a list,” Foster said, before Caroline Torosis also expressed interest in a seat on the subcommittee.

“I’m very upset that General Counsel Lewis is leaving us but I want to make sure we have the absolute best replacement that we possibly can find,” Torosis said, “and whether that means me personally begging people — I’m not above that.”

“Mr. Lewis has contributed so much to the agency and he’s been such a wonderful partner for me to work with so I’m going to certainly feel this loss,” Condon said. “But he will be retiring in November,” so the recruitment process must be started.

A listing of the job description can be found online at www.smgov.net/uploadedFiles/Departments/Rent_Control/Home/Job_Descriptions/General%20Counsel.pdf.

brennon@smdp.com