Rents Roll Back Today Despite Exemption Battle
As of today Cambridge tenants are authorized to begin paying rents at March levels but much confusion still remains concerning 99 buildings which interim rent control administrator Philip M. Cronin '53 temporarily exempted from rent control late last week.
Last night the City Council unanimously passed two orders which attempt to overturn Cronin's temporary exemptions.
Councillor Thomas Coates introduced an order "directing the city manager to implement an immediate moratorium on all matters relating to exemptions under the rent control legislation."
Councillor Barbara S. Ackermann ordered a directive asking state authorities whether any landlords may legally be exempted from rent control before any hearing takes place.
At an open hearing preceding the council meeting, Joseph A. Spadafora, the newly named executive director of rent control to serve under Cronin, attempted to answer questions about the law's administration, his new post and the 99 building exemptions.
Spadafora pointed out that the exemptions had been made before his appointment. He also said, "In my opinion the quickest route to rolling back the rent is the way we should follow."
City Manager John H. Corcoran appointed Spadafora to the $15,000 a year post Friday. As executive director Spadafora-a former property manager for Harvard while working for Hunneman Realty Company-will aid Cronin in administering the law. conducting adjustment hearings and deciding rent adjustments.
Ackermann denounced Cronin's exemptions as "not only discriminatory but clearly against the law."
Cronin was originally scheduled to attend the hearing but he did not return from New York in time to appear. Cronin's absence left a notable gap in the hearing proceedings.
Carl F. Barron, president of the Cambridge Property Owner's Association, last night called for "a total stoppage of rent control" which he denounced as "an invasion of privacy that is unconstitutional and unfair."
The Property Owners field a suit yesterday in District Court hoping to gain a temporary restraining order against Cronin's rollback announcement but the suit was put off pending the Supeme Court ruling on the law's constitutionality. "We intend to keep on fighting this law," Barron said.
As of yesterday the rent control office at City Hall Annex was refusing access to landlord rent control forms on the basis that the forms have not been completely processed yet and therefore cannot be made public.
This policy is making it difficult for many tenants to find out what their March, 1970 rent was in order to begin paying rents at that level.
Jean Kettleson, a lawyer for the Cambridge Legal Assistance Office, said yesterday. "I don't think withholding these forms from the public is legal."