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Los Angeles County, CA November 5, 2002 Election
Measure II
Establish procedures pertaining to conversion of rental housing to common ownership housing
City of Santa Monica

Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required

9,845 / 35.84% Yes votes ...... 17,627 / 64.16% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Information shown below: Yes/No Meaning | Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Shall the City Charter be amended to establish procedures for converting apartment buildings, trailer parks and other rental housing to condominiums or other common ownership housing, which would be exempt from certain planning and zoning laws, and procedures for allowing tenants to either become owners or continue as tenants with specified rights and protections?

Meaning of Voting Yes/No
A YES vote of this measure means:
The City Charter would be amended to allow specified housing to be converted to condominiums or other common ownership housing, exempt from certain planning and zoning laws, and procedures for tenants to become owners or continue as tenants with specified rights and protections.

A NO vote of this measure means:
The City Charter would not be amended with regard to housing conversion.

Impartial Analysis from City Attorney
This measure would amend the City Charter to authorize the conversion of rental housing to condominiums, stock cooperatives and other forms of common ownership and to give tenants living in converted properties the opportunity to purchase their units. The types of rental housing covered by these procedures would include apartment buildings, mobilehome parks, and other residential rentals, including single family homes in zoning districts other than R-1. The conversion procedures would not be available for a particular property if an eviction had occurred pursuant to the Ellis Act within the preceding five years or if an eviction for owner occupancy had occurred within the preceding two years.

Tenants who did not purchase units in converted buildings would receive an irrevocable 99 year lease addendum which would continue their tenancies, maintain local rent controls, and protect them against evictions under the Ellis Act and evictions for owner occupancy. Other 'good cause' evictions permitted under Santa Monica's Rent Control Law would be permitted. Senior citizen tenants would have specified rights to name successor tenants.

The measure would also establish procedures and time limits for the City's processing of conversion applications. Resale controls and conversion fees in excess of specified amounts would be prohibited. Converted buildings would be governed by building standards in effect at the time of their conversion approval. Specific provisions would legalize and govern converted bootleg units. Finally, violations would be subject to both civil remedies and criminal penalties.

The measure also contains a provision of general applicability which is not limited to converted properties. This provision would establish that any residential building, converted or not, which was destroyed by fire, earthquake, or other act of nature could be rebuilt in its old form irrespective of current building standards. That is, the building could be rebuilt within the previous building envelope, in the same architectural style, and with up to the same number of units as legally existed prior to the destruction irrespective of any planning and zoning laws in effect at the time of the reconstruction. Only current building and safety codes would apply to the reconstruction. Substantial modifications in architectural style would be subject to review by the City's Architectural Review Board.

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Arguments For Measure II Arguments Against Measure II
Supporters of Measure II say: Under Measure II, tenants will regain their right to purchase their apartments under this voluntary program. Tenants acting together will be allowed to buy their entire building and control the conversion themselves, saving time and money.

Measure II provides the opportunity for middle income tenants to receive all the benefits of home ownership at a net cost equivalent to market rent.

Non-purchasing tenants will enjoy continued rent control protections plus receive 99 year leases protecting them from Ellis Act and owner occupancy evictions. Measure II adds protections against Ellis Act and owner occupancy evictions (that are allowed under current rent control laws) and protects tenants even if the courts or some future state legislation weakens or ends Rent Control.

Under Measure II if your building is destroyed it can be rebuilt just as it was. Under current regulations, almost all replacement structures are severely reduced in size, meaning that fewer units can be rebuilt (inevitably squeezing out Rent Controlled tenants and even condo owners) and smaller single family houses. Measure II guarantees the right to rebuild to original size and density any residential building destroyed by disaster.

Official ballot arguments in support of Measure II are signed by:

  • Paul DeSantis, Attorney & Affordable Housing Advocate
  • Nancy M. Morse, Condominium Homeowner
  • Donna L. Block, Tenant Community Activist
  • Ann Greenspun, Homeowner

Measure II would be extremely disruptive to community and individual stability. It will mean long-term tenants losing their homes so wealthier newcomers can live in them as condos. It would allow conversion if only half the occupied units sign, who need not be long term residents. They could be the landlord's associates who moved in solely to agree to conversion.

Under Measure II, landlords will have incentives to get rid of existing renters and cut corners with the conversion. Promises of future legal protections won't be enough if the landlord or condo-owners harass remaining tenants so they can make bigger profits. It actually would allow landlords to make huge profits at the expense of their existing tenants.

Applications to convert rental housing could be filed with the City by an owner, a tenant group in the process of purchasing the housing, or a tenant group which had already purchased. The application would include, among other things, the sales price for each unit, plans for parking and common area usage, any repairs or alterations to be completed before sales of units, and a plan for allocating costs and expenses. Tenants occupying two-thirds of the units or spaces would need to co-sign an owner's application. A tenant group's application would require the signatures of tenants occupying half the units or spaces.

Under TORCA, a similar measure, from 1985 to 1996, renters committed their savings and their incomes only to learn that they had no protection against the costs of landlord-dictated `improvements.' Few were able to shoulder that burden; many moved out, losing their homes.

The `guarantee` Measure II offers homeowners is unnecessary. Within days after the 1994 earthquake, the city enacted policies to enable all property owners to replace damaged structures just as they were before the quake.

Official ballot arguments in opposition to Measure II are signed by: Ken Genser, Santa Monica City Councilmember Bruria Finkel, Chair of Santa Monica Rent Control Board Father Michael D. Gutierrez, Pastor St. Anne's Catholic Church and Shrine Pamela C. Vavra, SMRR Tenant Rights Hotline Counselor Jane Sure, Chair, S.M. Commission on Older Americans

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Created: December 6, 2002 03:14 PST
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