Rent control isn’t what Culver City wants

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Culver City Council likes to insist they are simply implementing the people’s wishes in instituting a very expensive, duplicative, local rent control program. The following letter submitted to the city council as a written comment, and which included 120 local voters’ signatures, begs to differ.

—Judy Scott

Dear Honorable Mayor, Vice-Mayor, Council Members and Staff: 

In light of the pandemic and its devastating impacts at all levels of society, the Culver City Coalition for Fiscal Responsibility (CCCFR), on behalf of local residents, tenants, business operators and housing providers, call upon our city leaders to expeditiously reevaluate funding priorities. 

With the city’s recent declaration of a Fiscal Emergency, which has been further exacerbated by a shutdown-induced declining revenue stream, the city must take action to suspend and/or pare back non-essential programs and services, redirect resources toward programs that will best address and serve our community’s greatest needs and expand the safety net offered to those who have been most harmed. 

Given the California state renter protections put in place this past year, one program that merits immediate consideration for termination is the Interim Rent Control Ordinance (IRCO). Variations between the protections offered underIRCO and statewide rent control do not justify this continued investment. 

The high cost of continuing to fund IRCO is not in the best financial interest of the city or its residents, especially when compounded with the potential million-dollar plus annual cost of establishing and maintaining a permanent local rent control ordinance. Furthermore, circumstances have changed, and today’s rental market is markedly different from when IRCO was initially conceived and placed into service. 

Recommendations:

Fast track the budget review and realignment process: Identify programs and services to suspend and/or pare back. Redirect a significant portion of those funds for COVID-19 related assistance programs for affected residents and businesses. 

Terminate IRCO: When the local ordinance was enacted there was a desire to limit rent increases due to some previous large rent hikes. This was prior to passage of the statewide renter protections and cap on rent increases law (AB1482). Both these measures provide for strong tenant protections and prevent excessive rent increases. Additionally, as a result of the shutdown and according to CoStar data, local rents are falling at an annualized rate of 5%. 

Suspend Rental Registry efforts: Creating a Rent Registry prior to determining if the City will even have a permanent Rent Control Ordinance in light of AB1482 and AB2406 is wasteful. Until such time as all voices can be heard regarding the future of IRCO and possibly until the state legislature acts on AB2406 regarding a statewide rental registry, pause this costly initiative. 

Defer to AB1482: Allow statewide rent control to self-regulate as is being done in every other city in the state that doesn’t have a local rent control ordinance. No evidence exists to support the notion that the city needs to establish its own staffing and infrastructure to oversee and enforce AB1482. Numerous tenant advocacy groups are available to support tenants should a perceived enforcement issue or any other landlord/tenant issue arise. Penalties are substantial for owners who fail to comply with AB1482. Additionally, the city’s existing Landlord Tenant Mediation Board could have its duties expanded to assist in any related matters. 

Redirect previously allocated IRCO funding: Identify, expand and/or develop programs that help tenants based upon need, thus ensuring that benefits specifically target those who need assistance. 

On behalf of the Culver City Coalition for Fiscal Responsibility (CCCFR), we look forward to supporting our city’s efforts to develop fiscally responsible pathways in which to aid those most affected by this pandemic. 

Respectfully, 

Gary E. Duboff

Also signed by 120 concerned Culver City residents and stakeholders including The Chamber of Commerce, two former mayors, former city treasurer, and many present and former board, commission and committee appointees as well as many Mom and Pop Housing Providers, tenants, homeowners and members of the local business community. (edited for space – for a complete list of all signatories, visit the Friends of Culver City Housing Facebook page)

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