Additional protections for Santa Monica renters were supported by a unanimous vote of the City Council on June 8. The voters would need to approve some of these protections while the Council could enact the others through an ordinance .
The public information manager for the rent control board, Steven Lewis, told the Mirror that any protection that would change the City’s rent control law would have to be decided by the voters because they would be considered charter amendments. Therefore, a warning for a tenant to change their conduct before it results in grounds for eviction would have to be on the November ballot if it effects only rent control tenants but if it is extended to all city tenants it could be enacted by ordinance.
A citywide ordinance would also have to be written for no-fault evictions for all tenants in multi-family dwelling units. Right now, only rent control tenants are protected from this type of eviction. A no-fault eviction is when a person is evicted for no reason at all.
A charter amendment would also have to be voted on so owners can’t evict tenants in rent-controlled properties for owner-occupancy use. This protection would be extended to seniors, persons with disabilities and terminally ill tenants living in these apartments. Lastly, an ordinance modification by the City Council would be necessary to change the amount and who could receive relocation fees if a tenant is evicted for owner-occupancy. Right now only rent-controlled tenants are eligible to receive these fees.
The Council directed city staff to come back to them with the appropriate ordinance language for the citywide instances and with the appropriate ballot language for the rent-control charter amendments.
Council member Kevin McKeown noted before the vote that “much of what is being suggested here really comes out of what the numbers show about what is happening to housing in Santa Monica.” He also noted that, “all the things being asked for exist in other jurisdictions” in California.