Culver City Observer -

Mayor Sahli-Wells Voices Support for Rent Freeze

 

August 8, 2019

By Dennis J. Freeman

City Editor

Culver City has a dilemma on its hands when it comes to the possibility that its City Council will consider putting a cap on rent increase for the time being. With the council considering such a move, the issue has been met with support by some residents and with angst for those opposing the freeze.

The City Council is expected to debate the matter Monday, Aug. 12. Whatever direction the council decides to move in, this issue will likely linger for a while. Ahead of Monday's council meeting, Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells responded to questions from the Culver City Observer via email about the possible rent freeze.

Dennis J. Freeman/Culver City Observer: What kind of impact will the proposed rent freeze have on the city and its residents?

Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells: "The freeze will give us time to consult with community members and research best practices for permanent renter protections. Last time this subject came up in 2015, the mere discussion of renter protections provoked a series of rent hikes and evictions as many landlords attempted to circumvent any future regulations by kicking tenants out or doubling rents. The goal of the freeze is to avoid this from happening again."

Dennis J. Freeman/Culver City Observer: How long will the freeze carry on or is proposed for?

Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells: "Twelve months."

Dennis J. Freeman/Culver City Observer: How will residents be affected once the freeze goes into effect-if passed- and once it ends?

Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells: "For tenants & landlords, it will cap rent hikes to no more than 3% during the freeze, if passed. There will be exemptions for major repairs/upgrades/earthquake retrofits. There have been multiple extreme cases of 100% rent hikes in Culver City. This is extremely disruptive to Culver City families, forcing many of them to leave the city."

Dennis J. Freeman/Culver City Observer: How much would the freeze cost the city?

Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells: "When the staff report is released, it will include an economic analysis. The cost will reflect any professional support we may need to prepare the regulations, and staff time to enforce them. The report should be released tonight."

Dennis J. Freeman/Culver City Observer: What are the responses from landlords about this rent freeze?

Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells: "Most of the e-mails I have received from landlords do not support renter protections. However, I've also heard from landlords who do support them."

Dennis J. Freeman/Culver City Observer: How much has rent increased since you have been in office? Previously?

Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells: "Since the city does not collect this data, it's hard to get a precise amount, but the staff report will include any information they have been able to gather so far. Anecdotally, I've had several friends & neighbors who have been "priced out" of Culver City due to rent increases, and during this process, I have heard from many more tenants who are experiencing the same challenges.

With the rapid influx in high-quality jobs in Culver City (Amazon Studios, Apple, HBO, etc.) we expect even more pressure on our rental market. This has been experienced by cities all over the country - and throughout California."

Dennis J. Freeman/Culver City Observer: What is the council prepared to do to balance this issue with residents and with landlords?

Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells: "That's precisely what we'll be discussing on Monday - and throughout this year during the freeze. It's a time for community dialogue."

Dennis J. Freeman/Culver City Observer: Are residents being priced out because of the new developments like The Culver Steps?

Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells: "Culver City home prices have risen 296% in the past 18 years - a period that includes the Great Recession. This is a long-term, regional trend. The new jobs coming are definitely a factor, too."

Dennis J. Freeman/Culver City Observer: How will businesses be impacted by the freeze-if passed?

Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells: "I think businesses will benefit from stability in the rental market because it will help their workforce."

 

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