Rent Control meeting: The Board met on Jan. 12 and chose Lonnie Guinn for the open seat. Courtesy photo


The Rent Control Board (RCB) appointed Lonnie Guinn to fill the seat vacated by Caroline Torosis when she won a position on the City Council

Santa Monica’s civic leadership settled into place last week following resolution of the last vestige of the 2022 election.

The Rent Control Board (RCB) appointed Lonnie Guinn to fill the seat vacated by Caroline Torosis when she won a position on the City Council in November and the board also took some time at the Jan 12 meeting to congratulate Torosis on her advancement to Council.

State law prohibits holding two elected offices when they are deemed in conflict with each other and upon acceptance of a new position, individuals are automatically removed from their original post. Torosis was sworn in at the end of 2022 and the RCB opened applications to fill the remainder of her term.

Two applications were filed in time for the Boards reports, Lonnie Guinn and Susan Morrow. Zoe Muntaner filed a late application that was also considered but the board choose Guinn.

Guinn is a rent controlled tenant in the City who has lived in the same unit for the past 13 years. He is a former City employee who worked for the Board itself in addition to the library and Economic Development departments.

RCB Commissioner Danny Ivanov echoed statements from the entire board who said they were impressed with Guinn’s demonstrated knowledge of the subject and ability to grasp the issues immediately.

“We need somebody that like I said can hit the ground running from day one, we don’t really have time for, you know, on the job training when we have threats to the rent control charter that we’re facing this year,” he said. “So, ultimately, I think every I think every applicant was qualified. I think every applicant brings their unique perspective to this role. But ultimately, when I’m looking for who’s going to be best equipped to handle the roll from day one, Lonnie is application stood out to me.”

Guinn said he was excited to get started.

“My experience in government has been with staff on the implementation and enforcement of public policy,” he said. “And while I feel that would be an asset to serve on this board, I know that I’m asking you to seat me in a position on the other more political side and that is in the advocacy and policymaking. I look forward to the possibility of serving this community in this new and challenging role if I’m seated.”

The Jan 12 meeting was also an opportunity for the Board to bid farewell to Torosis.

“I’ve just I’ve never encountered among all the fabulous people in city government, I just have not encountered anyone who takes this as seriously as you do to the heart,” said Commissioner Anastasia Foster of Torosis’ service.

Two residents spoke about Torosis’ time on the board.

“And we are very excited that you are now going to be on the Council we congratulate you once again on your election to City Council and we know with your dedicated efforts and your hard work on behalf of all the people of Santa Monica,” said Sonia Fox Sultan on behalf of Santa Monicans for Renters Rights. “That your term or terms on the Council are going to be very successful and that you’re going to continue to do wonderful things both as a Councilmember and we look forward to working together with you as I’m sure the entire community does.”

Jennifer Kennedy also spoke from her position with SMRR.

“Your dedication to finding solutions for tenants year after year and to addressing issues such as eviction protection during the pandemic emergency made a significant impact on the lives of many individuals and families city,” she said.

Torosis attended the meeting herself and credited partnerships for her time on the board including the work of staff, Santa Monicans for Renters Rights and the other Commissioners.

“And that is why I got into politics to serve as a voice for folks who truly were not representative or represented by their governments,” she said.

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...