September 30, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica Voters Pass Measure FS, Deny Measure H:

Santa Monica voters passed Measure FS on Tuesday night that will now give the Rent Control Board the chance to discuss and potentially increase the City’s Rent Control registration fee up to a maximum of $288 per unit annually of which a landlord can pass down 50 percent to renters.

The city’s Rent Control department currently has a maximum annual registration fee of up to $174.96 per controlled rental unit.

The Measure FS “yes” vote collected 51.5 percent of the vote (8,860 votes) while the “no” vote collected only 8,343 votes (48.5 percent).

This measure, placed on the Nov. 4 ballot by City Council, will amend City Charter section 1803(n), governing registration fees for controlled rental housing units.

Currently, that section authorizes the Rent Control Board to finance its reasonable and necessary expenses by charging landlords annual registration fees for controlled rental units in amounts the Board deems reasonable.

Current law allows the Board to authorize landlords to pass through 100 percent of the registration fee to tenants; and, historically, that is what the Board authorized, until last year when the Board authorized a pass through of about 89 percent of the registration fee.

In contrast, by mandating a 50 percent pass through, the measure will effectively require that the cost of Rent Control Board operations be equally split between landlords and tenants.

Meanwhile, Santa Monica voters rejected Measure H on Tuesday that sought to increase the city’s real estate transfer tax.

The “no” vote collected 10,325 votes (57.8 percent) with only 7,528 “yes” votes (42.2 percent).

This measure, also placed on the Nov. 4 ballot by City Council, proposed to raise local City of Santa Monica revenues by increasing the real estate transfer tax charged and received by the City of Santa Monica.

The current tax rate is $3 per $1,000 of sale price, with fractional parts of $1,000 rounded upward for purposes of calculating the tax.

Under the measure, the new tax would have been increased to $9 per $1,000 of sale price (or fractional part of $1,000) for properties sold for $1 million or more. Transfers for less than $1 million would have continued to be taxed by the City at the existing rate of $3 per $1,000 of sale price.

Measure HH, which was an advisory vote whether to spend the extra money on affordable housing if Measure H passed, will now have no effect despite it narrowly passing with 50.1 percent (8,886 votes).

This non-binding advisory measure asked voters if the city should use the transfer tax revenue to preserve, repair, renovate and construct affordable housing for low-income people who work or live in Santa Monica, including seniors, veterans, working families, and persons with disabilities.

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