Rosario Perry, a gifted attorney lauded for his creative legal thinking, died from cancer at the age of 75 drawing the recognition of city leaders for the mark he left on Santa Monica’s rental community.
From his Pico Blvd. based law office, his representation of local landlords over the last forty years played a strong role in shaping the implementation of Santa Monica’s Rent Control Charter.
“We know that many landlords sought his counsel and received it over the years here, and even where we might have had differences of opinion or in philosophy regarding rent control and the history of rent control he, at least in my mind, was a very vivacious and voracious supporter of his clients and his causes and was always professional and pleasant and respectful in our exchanges. And so I know he will be missed by the landlord population of Santa Monica and the Westside,” said Rent Control Commissioner Anastasia Foster.
Perry was known for his sharp intellect, imaginative thinking and encyclopedic knowledge of the City’s rent control laws. He attended Stanford University for his undergraduate degree and graduated from USC Law School in 1973 where he served on the Law Review and was a top ranking scholar in his class. He began his career as an assistant City Attorney in Santa Monica and decided to focus his life’s work on defending property owners following the local enactment of rent control in 1979.
“(He was) a fantastic, gifted landlord side lawyer who argued in front of this council and in court. The many times I saw him he was a brilliant talker and brilliant thinker in the sense that he really thought outside the box, there was no box that he couldn’t think outside. I did recognize that he was brilliant and his life and presence will be a loss to Santa Monica,” said Mayor Sue Himmelrich.
Perry served as a dogged advocate for landlords, who while frequently vexing tenant advocates, commanded strong respect from his clients for his intense passion, strong work ethic and integrity to the law.
He played an integral role in the ACTION Apartment Association, which was formed as a coalition of rental property owners after rent control was enacted in Santa Monica and has since grown to represent property owners across the Westside. In 2007, Perry argued a case on Santa Monica’s tenant harassment rules on behalf of the association all the way up to the California Supreme Court.
“Others will advise that SM Rent Control Charter Amendments are very complicated and difficult to understand and yet Rosario had unlimited command of these municipal regulations,” said attorney Michael Millman, who attended law school and later co-chaired the ACTION Apartment Association Legal Committee with Perry. “He was a true warrior for the small family owned apartment group. He took impossible cases without consideration to costs or fees.”