Less than a month before the Nov. 4 municipal election, residents of Santa Monica’s most diverse neighborhood are hosting a community forum today to develop solutions to gentrification.
Feeling the real pressure of accelerated development and resident displacement, community leaders, residents and renter’s rights activists are organizing part two of the Better Neighborhoods, Same Neighbors Community Forum today, Oct. 9 at 7 pm at Virginia Avenue Park’s Thelma Terry Center to inform and engage renters and residents working to keep Santa Monica diverse.
Since the Ellis Act was enacted by the State legislature in 1986, giving property owners the right to get out of the rental business, almost 2,000 rent controlled units have been lost in Santa Monica.
The Pico Neighborhood Association (PNA), with support from the Santa Monica Rent Control Board and the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, will release an animated map illustrating the impact of the Ellis Act on Santa Monica’s population over time.
“Digital maps and storytelling make the often invisible processes of eviction, displacement, and gentrification tangible and accessible. We are seeing an increase in the misuse of the Ellis Act throughout California that needs to be addressed locally and at the statewide level,” stated Erin McElroy, the project’s director.
A key partner in the map’s creation was the staff of the Santa Monica Rent Control Board who provided the data that was used.
“We welcomed the important opportunity for us to support the creation of the Santa Monica Ellis eviction map to demonstrate the continuous negative impact that the Ellis Act has had on residents of our City”, said Todd Flora Rent Control Board Chairperson.
Maria Loya, Vice Chair of the Pico Neighborhood Association, advisory board member of Residocracy and Santa Monicans’ for Renter’s Rights steering committee member, said “We envision a Santa Monica that is diverse but this vision is being threatened daily by market pressures.”
“The incoming Expo Light Rail line will only exacerbate the displacement of low income residents and we need to develop a comprehensive strategy to protect current residents unless we want Santa Monica to turn into Beverly Hills by the beach,” Loya said.
The Community Forum will feature a presentation on the Ellis Eviction Map, a discussion on the interim zoning update and solutions to strengthening affordable housing for current low-income residents and strategies to conserve and protect Santa Monica’s most diverse neighborhood.
The Pico Neighborhood Association’s Better Neighborhoods, Same Neighbors: Resident Protection and anti-Displacement Campaign strives to:
— Map evictions and monitor all levels of resident displacement including Ellis Act removals and non-willful owner buy outs.
— Create policies and strategies to protect residents from evictions and displacement, including progressive changes to the Zoning Ordinance and City budget increases to create affordable housing that prioritizes current residents and very low income tenants.
Co-sponsoring organizations include: Pico Neighborhood Association, Eviction Defense Network, Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, Pico Youth & Family Center. Members of the Santa Monica Rent Control Board will participate in the discussion.