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Santa Monica tenants and property owners to mark 30 years of rent control

The city of Santa Monica plans to commemorate 30 years of rent control by holding its first-ever workshop for tenants and property owners.

The event, "Finding Common Ground in Changing Times," is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Annenberg Community Beach House. The aim is to develop a new strategy for solving problems that arise between the two groups, known for contentious dealings, so that fewer disputes end up in court.

Although relations between renters and landlords have improved since the heated early days of rent control, "things are far from harmonious," said Adam Radinsky, head of the consumer protection unit in the Santa Monica city attorney's office.

City staff members field many complaints, as tenants in rent-controlled units claim harassment by landlords and landlords continue to harbor a distrust of City Hall.

The city's rental market has changed markedly in recent years. Average rents and the number of market-rate units are up. The vacancy rate has increased, and many new property owners have entered the market.

"This is the first step in what we all hope is a permanent shift to more cooperation and collaboration," Radinsky said. "The court system has its place -- and we always use it when necessary -- but it really should be a last resort."

The event is free, but space is limited. Registration at the city's website is required.

-- Martha Groves

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