Culver City Observer -

Council Nixes Considering Rent Control

It Will Discuss Affordable Housing

 

December 11, 2014

By Lynne Bronstein

Observer Reporter

The issues of rent control and affordable housing might be seen as six of one and half a dozen of the other. Affordable housing was, however, the preferred issue for the Culver City Council, who on Monday night agreed to agendize a discussion of that topic while dismissing rent control as a topic.

The Council came to this conclusion after hearing from more than 50 public speakers, plus written comments. Four council members weighed in, as Mehaul O' Leary recused himself due to his current status as a renter.

Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells had suggested the topic of affordable housing but said she had not wanted rent control to be the focus, as it turned out to be. Although more property owners than renters spoke in public comment (with some speakers charging that a lack of sufficient prior notice by the city had prevented renters from knowing the topic was up for discussion), the emphasis was largely on rent control both pro and con.

Speaking for the Chamber of Commerce, Stephen Rose stated that the Chamber "believes in free enterprise.....by that we do not feel that the city should get involved in the economics of rental units.....but a discussion should be held on housing stock and housing inventory. We should be looking at density and heights."

Another speaker charged the city with being irresponsible for not sending out notices of the meeting to renters. "You are not here to serve the pleasures of the chamber. You are here to serve the city totally."

While Sahli-Wells admitted the city had been remiss in its prior notification, she said that she had wanted to make sure renters had protection. "The status quo is not working for everyone."

But Council member Andrew Weissman countered with the comment that the Council was trying to discuss rent control without saying that it was rent control-and he did not want rent control but suggested the Landlord-Tenant Mediation Board should handle problems.

"Rent control is bad public policy," said Weissman. "An unintended but fully understood consequence is that rent control reduces quality and quantity of rental housing."

Jeff Cooper took exception to the idea of rent control and also warned that opposing density and height increases might prevent the creation of affordable housing. Jim Clarke thought that there should be more discussion on housing and rental assistance programs.

The Council passed a motion, 4-0, with one abstention ( O' Leary) to hold a discussion about the creation of affordable housing, the existing role of the Landlord-Tenant Mediation Board, and the potential of strengthening the role of the Landlord-Tenant Mediation Board in a world café setting.

 

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