Caroline Torosis: Torosis is a Rent Control Board Commissioner and an attorney. Courtesy photo

Overview:

The Board opened applications to fill a vacant seat and will make a decision at its Jan. 12 meeting.

When the Santa Monica Rent Control Board (RCB) fills a vacancy this week, it will have replaced four of its five members going into the new year.

Three Commissioners were replaced during the last election cycle and a fourth has left the board after winning an election to the City Council.

Caroline Torosis won a seat on City Council last year and her ascension to that seat required her to relinquish her position on the RCB. The Board opened applications to fill that seat and will make a decision at its Jan. 12 meeting.

Two candidates applied: Lonnie Guinn and Susan Morrow.

Guinn has lived and worked in Santa Monica for about 14 years working for local government including the Santa Monica Library, Economic Development department and the RCB itself.

“I served almost 9 years as the RCB Secretary where I gained an extensive knowledge of how the Board does and should work,” she said.

Morrow has lived in the city for 23 years and also worked for local government agencies including the City of Malibu.

“I understand several California Government Codes and implement those mandates for various entities,” she said. “Over the years, I have read the state’s rental rights brochures and appropriate rent control regulations to help others understand the processes available.”

Guinn said she wants to protect renters locally and throughout the state.

“My vision is that all tenants in controlled units understand their rights under Rent Control Law to avoid being taken advantage of and that must be done through strong ‘marketing’ strategy,” said Guinn. “We can then hope to keep a diverse citizenry that stays in SM longer without being forced out by finances, landlords or developers.”

Morrow said she would adhere to the city’s critical objectives including control rents, limiting evictions, preserving housing, encouraging maintenance and ensuring a fair return for landlords.

“Rent control has been a long-standing tradition in the city and I would uphold that direction under its regulations,” she said. “The Rent Control board and rent-controlled units have been part of the City of Santa Monica for decades.”

If the Board makes an appointment to the vacant seat on Tuesday, the individual will be sworn in immediately and will serve until the next municipal election in November 2024 when the seat will go before voters for a full four year term.

Whoever is chosen will join three Commissioners who ran unopposed last year. Ericka Lesley, Danny Ivanov and Kurt Gonska were all sworn in following the 2022 election leaving Anastasia Foster as the only returning RCB member.

While the RCB’s election was uncontested, the subject drove much of the election. Voters angry about high rent increases caused by skyrocketing inflation approved ballot measures that fundamentally changed how rents will be calculated and increased the authority of the Board to modify rent increases during emergencies.

editor@smdp.com

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...