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Civic Engagement 2022

Posted by Esther Hickman on August 25, 2022
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Elections are right around the corner and it’s going to be more pins and needles, no matter your political ideology.  A lot of proposed changes will be on the ballot or coming down the pipeline impacting Santa Monica real estate. We all share a love and passion for Santa Monica so let’s pay close attention to details and help realize our city’s full potential!  Get educated on these issues, talk to your friends and neighbors and exercise your right to vote!  

Funding for Homelessness Prevention, Affordable Housing, and School Ballot Measure

You might have already seen this measure coined as the Mayor’s Transfer Tax. This transfer tax would charge 5% for properties worth 8 million or more in value. It could raise $50 million annually and require that the first $10 million raised go to local schools and the remaining revenue go into a fund for affordable housing construction and rental subsidies to protect residents from falling into homelessness.

In deciding how to vote for this one, I might contemplate Senate Bill 9 (SB 9) and Senate Bill 10 (SB 10), that have legalized duplexes and quadplexes in areas that were previously zoned for single-family-only housing.  Could this transfer tax further encourage the densification of our beach town community, whether or not that is favorable? 

We have one of the wealthiest and well funded school districts in the state and most likely the country with declining enrollment. This tax measure does not identify what the school funding would be for. As an alumni with a child at SMMUSD, I will be paying close attention!

Many people really don’t understand what affordable housing is in this town.  It would be great if everyone took a little time to learn about all the housing programs and locations of the properties, like the one that is being built at the former parking structure 3. It’s one of the structures along 4th Street, the most economically productive land in the city,  that used to serve the community and businesses at 3rd Street promenade.  Did you know that an individual who earns less than $83,400 can qualify for below market housing in Santa Monica? Parking requirements are minimal, less than a 1:1 ratio per bedroom. 

By the time this magazine hits your mailboxes you might see another competing transfer tax on the ballot.  This one hails public safety as its priority.  This would establish a 1.5 percent tax on properties sales over $8 million with the funding earmarked for a variety of priorities including crossing guards, libraries, after school childcare, public safety and homeless response services. If approved the measure would not legally require the revenue to go to any specific cause and its spending would ultimately be at the City Council’s discretion.  

Just a reminder that Santa Monica already has 2 tiers of real estate transfer tax. 0.3 percent on transfers under $5 million and 0.6 percent on transfers over $5 million in value. 

Get ready for another bond measure from SMC named Santa Monica College affordable higher education, career training, classroom upgrades. Take a walk or bike ride through the college one day, peruse their offerings and fee structure for residents online  and then make a decision. 

Did you know the maximum allowable rent increase for Santa Monica Rent Control will be 6% effective September 2022, not to exceed $140? Commissioners are seeking to place a measure on the November ballot that would amend the Rent Control Charter and give the Rent Control Board the authority to suspend rent increases during declared emergencies.  City Council authorized the City Attorney’s office to draft two new ballot measures, 1) A 3% cap on annual rent increases. 2) City Council to authority to impose additional rent limitations during a declared emergency. 

Santa Monica Rent Control Board recommends rent control charter amendments for the November 2022 ballot.  This would require non rent controlled rental units, exempting Single Family Homes to register with the City. Owners will be required to pay registration fees.  For owner occupied no-fault evictions, the proposed charter would require a period of occupancy of at least 3 years, up from a 1 year period.  Failure to occupy for 3 years would result in a requirement to re-offer the unit back to the displaced renter. 

This year consider meeting the candidates for City Council, School Board, SMC College Board, and Rent Control Board.  Take a moment to learn about their priorities and vision for Santa Monica.

How can you get more information and get involved? Check out some of these resources. If you arent sure about which group is for you, I’d love to get a sense of what’s important to you, so I can point you in the right direction!

Get involved!

Neighborhood Organizations (in alphabetical order)

Friends of Sunset Park

Pico Neighborhood Association

North of Montana Association

Ocean Park Association

Santa Monica Mid City Neighbors

Santa Monica Northeast Neighbors

Wilshire Montana Neighborhood Coalition

Political Action Committees and Organizations (in alphabetical order)

A Brighter Future

Action Apartment Association, Inc

Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS)

Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City

Santa Monica Democratic Club

Santa Monica Forward

Santa Monicans for Change

Santa Monica for Renters Rights

Facebook Groups (in alphabetical order)

Santa Monica Government, Politics, Policies + People

Santa Monica Now

Santa Monicans Against Crime

SMMUSD Community Chat

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