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Rent Control Board Considers Hiking Fees

Landlords pay for the registration fees, $156 per unit annually, by passing them onto tenants.

For the first time in seven years, Santa Monica’s Rent Control Board might raise the annual fees it assess landlords to register their units.

Currently set at $156, the yearly fees could be raised $24-36 per unit to help overcome the agency's budget deficit. Property owners are required to pay the annual registration fee for every unit subject to Santa Monica's rent control law.

Unlike most cities with rent control, in Santa Monica, the landlords are able to pass 100 percent of the fees onto tenants.

The fees, last increased in 2006, are the agency's primary funding source.

The board will have to decide whether to raise the fees by July 1, when the new fiscal year starts. It's facing a budget deficit of about $350,000.

Chairman William Winslow said a lion's share of growing expenditures the past few years are due to "staggering" increases in health insurance costs for employees.

"We have a revenue problem," board member Todd Flora said. But he has also asked staffers to "scrub" the budget to come up with more savings.

There is enough money in reserves to fill the budget gap, but Administrator Tracy Condon has said tapping those funds would drain the account to below what's required to meet the city's recommended budgeting standard. (The city's finance department recommends keeping reserves at 10 percent of the year’s budget plus funds to cover staffers' accrued but unused paid time off.)

The board might also consider changing the apportionment between tenants and landlords. The chart to the right of this article shows registration fees charged by the seven other rent control agencies in California, the number of units in that jurisdiction and how much of the fees are charged to tenants.

"The apportionments in the other jurisdictions vary, but in no case do the tenants pay more than 50 percent," Condon wrote in an email to Patch. "The Board could elect to apportion in a number of different ways."

She said will present some of those options to the board at its April 11 meeting.

Glenn E Grab February 20, 2013 at 06:56 PM
how about firing a few of the useless employees that "work" for the agency.....how much are the "executives" making?....
SantaMonicaNative February 20, 2013 at 07:37 PM
While they are a i maybe they can figure out pass through for the absurd new increases in water, sewage and trash. I voted for Rent Control outside buyers were moving into Santa Monica, and jacking up rents mindlessly. So we got Rent Control, but no mens qualifiers. Now we have an ugly situaion where wealthy renters play the system while low income renters and seniors can't get into Santa Monica. I can barely cover the payments but my tenants have expensive cars, lavish vacations and weekly maid service and lots of extra money. So now we jack up th registration fees and figure out how to stick it to the landlord. You my have notices the number of mom and pop landlords decreases every year. We don't have lawyers on retainer. we don't have deep pockets or pools of untapped revenue. When something breaks the cost comes out of my retirement income. We all live in Santa Monica, it's time the City recognizes that and stops pitting Tenant against Landlord. I know equality is a dream but a little more fairness is in order. It takes both groups to make Santa Monica a balanced, diverse city. As long as Landlords are portrayed as rich, evil, money grubbing slime and Tenants as poor, trod upon victims it won't get better. Be fair this time.
SantaMonicaNative February 21, 2013 at 02:22 AM
It is hysterical to have a piece of property worth 1.25 mil and i can't refinance because the income is too low. Honest, that's what a very large bank told me. If you have ever worked with the Rent Control Board, as i have had to over the years, you would know or certain they re ther only for the tennts. If you are a tenant they can't do enough, if youre a Landlord , they just tell to get a lawyer. You can apply for increases but they're pretty much capped at $25.00 a month. I am actally in favor of some type of control, particularly for people with children. No one wants children or pets and in this city, with ridiculous rents landlords can and do pick and choose, particularly since once it's rented chanced are, unless your new mar is very, very high, you have tenants For life. It takes guts for the city to raise water, sewage and trash and then hit the landlords for rent control fees.
Claudia Schafer February 21, 2013 at 03:39 AM
Make no mistake about it SMN - there is a concerted class-warfare agenda in place with the majority of this City Council. I agree with Dan. They would love nothing better than to drive out the Mom's n Pop's landlords as well as those of us tenants who have limited incomes. It really does suck to be poor in Santa Monica.
Valerie Ferguson February 21, 2013 at 05:15 AM
Once again the city council is looking out for it's own interestand the interest of developers and "their" kick-backs.
Sir Harrington February 21, 2013 at 05:40 AM
CIty employees do pay for the medical insurance. Most cannot afford to be property owner/landlords with multiple tenants, though.
Bob Smithington February 21, 2013 at 09:35 PM
God knows we don't have any tourists or business in this city that can bring in tax dollars. Tax hikes for residents are our only possible source of income to pay for the $55 million park being built. Viva la revolution!
Dan Charney March 06, 2013 at 07:54 AM
No but its a bit of a nudge for those owners to sell to the many developers waiting with hands full of sweaty money to Ellis those building and build condos- with no real programs in place for the truly vulnerable ( CC doesn't cover them ) - they will go - this is tantamount to causing serious stress and possibly illness to older people- these are there communities - it will tear them apart- even if it's the people on the street they don't like - it's still "their people on their street".
Dan Charney March 06, 2013 at 08:04 AM
SMN and Claudia, It may once have been true that the RCB was for the tenant- not in my experience of late- they used to be but those folks are gone it seems- replaced by a new attitude of "that's too bad"- you sound like a nice person who cares about people, kids and pets- I would give it another shot and if you deserve those increases- get them" - I believe they want you to sell- there are many waiting to buy your place - if they an deny raises to you then you have more incentive to sell- thus ridding the city of older buildings and undesirable types- and Claudia- as a wise old friend once said to me- "never say poor- always say broke"- as someone who lost nearly everything ten years ago due to a crime- including my ability to walk for over a year- if it were not for my place- I would have been homeless- but you should be able to get a decent return SMN- you don't sound like a greedy creep - the methods they use to 'cleanse' places is always the same- squeeze from both sides- that is what is happening here-
Dan Charney March 06, 2013 at 08:08 AM
They do ? My mistake- apologies- but i do think 1 employee to every 35 people or so is a bit much - I see lots of top heavy and bottom heavy things going on- can't we survive with 1-100 ?

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