The 6% GA brings Santa Monica’s rent regulated units to a socio-economic inflection point; a socio-economic moment of truth: those who are fortunate enough to absorb the shock of the increase and those who cannot, ultimately being forced from their apartments.
The 6% increase will cause the City to, inevitably, careen into the proverbial “Tale of Two Cities”. On the one hand, a city of the economically privileged and on the other, a city of the very low income aided by government programs.
The demographic damage will be inflicted upon long-term senior renters who are penalized by the POD Program for creating an economic cushion for themselves in retirement.
Unlike other nearby rent regulated jurisdictions that protects its renters in a “common sense” and “collaborative approach” in troubled times, our Rent Control Charter’s current “flawed” and “inflexible” formula for General Adjustments puts far too many renters at economic risk and hardship.
City Council must take the following steps and measures to prevent the upending of its rent regulated population:
1. Declare an economic emergency giving emergency powers to override and downgrade the September 6% rent increase to no more than 3%. Councilmembers must be mindful that rent is only one among many other rapidly accelerating costs faced by Santa Monica renters. Any “rent over payments” during this period must be returned to renters.
2. Amend the Rent Control Charter to provide the tools and latitude to better reflect distressed times and “realities”. The GA cap should never be allowed to rise above 3% and should be kept below that whenever feasible.
3. Revise the POD Program making it more expansive. Long-term seniors are currently penalized for having any kind of emergency cushion.
Unlike Federal and California tax code that does not treat held assets as income, unless they produce income, the POD Program treats held assets as income — even in instances when they produce little or no appreciable income. THIS MUST CHANGE.
Bill Davids, Santa Monica