Council Sends Revived C 1/2 to State House
Rent Control Enforcement Law Awaiting Final Legislative Approval
In a routine which has become almost second nature over the last five months, the City Council Monday night voted to restore a controversial city law to strengthen enforcement of rent control laws, despite virulent objections from a vocal lobby of small landlords.
The council's vote Monday moves the measure--technically known as Section C 1/2--into the final stretch of its legal battle. The measure has already been approved by the State Senate, and city legislators said it is expected to pass the House later this week.
Since its prior incarnation was struck down by the State Supreme Judicial Court this fall, C 1/2 has travelled a circuitous route through the legislative process, including a prior trip to the State House and several amendments.
If approved by the House, the measure will go into effect after being signed by the governor, with no further action needed by the City Council.
Designed as an extension of the city's 1979 "removal permit" ordinance, C 1/2 would prohibit landlords from selling off individual units from a block of rent-controlled apartments.
Proponents of the measure maintain that it is necessary to prevent owners from illegally occupying individual rent-controlled apartments and converting them to condominiums. They point to figures which show that hundreds of units have already been sold since the court ruling in November.
SPOA Speaks Up
But opponents argued that the measure constitutes a further infringement of property rights, which they said have been seriously weakened by rent control regulations.
"It is totally un-American, in my opinion, to interfere with private property," said Denise Gilson, a member of the Small Property Owners Association (SPOA), which has picketed council meetings since last fall.
"Cambridge stands alone in its treatment of owners. We have no property rights," said John R. Natale, co-chair of SPOA. "The most bizarre thing of all is that there is no means test. The people who get them are not the ones who need them, but the ones who are lucky."
Return of the Means Test
Immediately following Natale's remarks, Councillor William H. Walsh--a long-time opponent of rent control--proposed a substitute order to the C 1/2 petition, which would have required a "means test" for occupants of rent-controlled apartments.
The test would have required all individuals making more than $40,000 a year, or couples with a combined income of more than $50,000, to vacate their rent-controlled units. It was defeated by a vote of 6 to 3.
In other business:
.Awarded keys to the city to two visitors from the Soviet Union Rimantas Matulis, a recently elected city councillor from Vilnius, Lithuania, is visiting Cambridge to learn about the workings of local democratic government. Gregorii B. Maistrenko, a high school teacher from Leningrad, is visiting the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School along with one other Russian teacher and 10 students as part of an education exchange program.
.Commended Weld Professor of Law Derrick C. Bell for his strong stance in support of stepped-up minority and women faculty hiring at the Law School.
Bell, the first Black professor to gain tenure at the Law School, recently announced that he plans to take a leave of absence if the school does not tenure a minority woman.