From Renters Write, October 2009

A Time to Celebrate, Reflect, and Look Ahead

SMRR at Thirty

Thanks to the stability and security provided by rent control and its associated protections, won and continually defended by Santa Monicans for ­Renters' Rights, we tenants are able to become long-term, established members of the community and amass memories and cherished souvenirs of our lives here.

Pulling out old photo albums and mementos, digging through the back of the closet to pore through cartons and trunks full of sentimental bric-a-brac, and getting together to reminisce and reflect – these are things people commonly do on reaching notable anniversaries and milestones in our lives, and our SMRR family is doing just that, as we proudly celebrate thirty years of activism and Accomplishment. We’re doing it literally – gathering, sorting, and presenting members’ clippings, photos, posters, and other archival documents of all kinds – and also figuratively, as we look back on the dreams we dreamed and the goals we set out those three long, eventful decades ago and assess how we’ve realized them in the years since.

Sometimes conditions have been easier; other times more challenging, and it’s a measure of our strength and commitment that we have reached this impressive milestone with our ideals and vision intact and our determination strong. Most important, the evidence of our tenacious work can be seen everywhere we look in our beloved city by the bay.

Our core goal of ensuring security for renters, to ­create the sustainability and strength of ­community that comes when residents are able to put down roots and develop a stake in their hometown, has been ­amply met, despite the challenges at the state level to our locally determined and fiercely defended rent ­control policies and strategies for creating and preserving ­affordable housing. Santa Monicans for ­Renters’ Rights was formed in response to a ­crisis ­facing ­tenants – then, as now, a majority of the ­population – as a combination of rapidly escalating rents and an ­accelerating pace of condo conversions was ­forcing longtime renters, especially seniors, out of their ­longtime homes. The core agenda of protecting tenants was accompanied by a broader vision of progressive values embodied in our original points of unity.

Reflecting now on our thirty years of struggle and accomplishment, we can both take the measure of our successes and assess the challenges we face in the present as well as our prospects going forward.

Our thirtieth anniversary finds us in a historical moment of considerable challenges, as the economy, from global to national to state and all the way down to the local level is undergoing wrenching transformation.

Thanks in large part to intelligent SMRR-generated policies and the effective stewardship of our City government and agencies under thirty years of SMRR-dominated civic leadership, Santa Monica is weathering the economic downturn and resultant fiscal challenges far better than most. That’s not to say that we are completely unaffected by straitened circumstances – we do in fact face some painful realities that will determine what services and public goods the City can deliver – but rather to acknowledge that we are much better off than we would have been without the vision and effective leadership supplied by SMRR and SMRR-supported elected and appointed officials.

Whatever the ups and downs in the economy, locally and in the larger picture, we are determined to keep working together to shape our community in line with our values. We can look back over thirty years of accomplishment with the satisfaction of knowing that we have kept faith with the vision embodied in the points of unity we began with, which have been refined over the years with the participation of our membership and proudly set out in our platform.

Join us in raising your glasses to our past as we move forward together into the future.