Finance Advisory Committee Considers the Cost of Interim Rent Control Ordinance

The Culver City Finance Advisory Committee heard a report Wednesday night, Nov. 20, 2019 on what it would cost to maintain the current interim rent control ordinance. It comes a month after the City Council declared a fiscal emergency, and amidst a fierce counter movement against the interim measure.

In a crowded conference room at City Hall, Assistant City Manager Jesse Mays presented a budget amendment that projects the city will need nearly $500,000 to implement the current law over the next seven months, with approximately 40 percent going towards communications and the Rental Registration Online System that landlords are required to use.

“It’s very hard to define fiscal transparency,” Committee member Crystal Alexander said. “At least the finance council knows, it’s our duty to define it.”

Mays showed the cost of rent control implementation in similar cities. Most numbers were in the millions.

Opponents of the rent control ordinance were in heavy attendance that night, noting their concerns about the toll the law may take on owners of smaller multi-family houses.

“I’m shocked to learn the cost of the interim measure wasn’t disclosed before.” said Meg Sullivan during public comment. Sullivan owns a multi-family residence in Culver City.

City Council is currently awaiting a petition from Protect Culver City, a Political Action Committee which submitted an initiative measure last month that, if passed, would require any rent control measures be approved by ballot vote. The PAC has 180 days to retrieve 2,801 signatures, at which point the city will verify the signatures. If the petition is deemed sufficient, the Council may request a report that analyzes the measure’s effects on the community.

Rent control in Culver City went into effect on August 12, 2019 after City Council voted 4-1 to approve a four percent cap on rent increases. The measure is meant to protect tenants, many of whom the City has stated were retaliated against by their landlords when discussions began earlier this year.

The petition to put the city’s rent control ordinance on the ballot may well be a moot point; Gov. Newsom signed a bill into law on Oct. 8, 2019 which will cap rent increases at 5% statewide. Landlords will have to show just cause before evicting tenants who have lived in their unit for more than 12 months. The bill goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

The committee did not decide when it would present the report to City Council.

Elizabeth Moss

www.culvercitysymphony.org

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