Rent control was the number one order of business for the City of Cambridge during the past week.
After several meetings lasting far into the night, the City Council voted to ask the City Solicitor's opinion of the legality of a proposed rent control ordinance proposed to the Council by the Cambridge Housing Convention.
A second rent control ordinance, this one proposed by the Cambridge Rent Control referendum, has been rewritten after the group discovered an error in their original ordinance, The referendum group is now beginning anew to get the signatures needed to put its proposed ordinance on the City's November ballot.
In its meetings on the housing convention's ordinance, the council heard everyone from professors to landlords and tenants testify for and against the bill, which would freeze rents at the January, 1968 level for four years, allowing increases only with the approval of a rent control board.
The rent control referendum group, which is backed by the Cambridge Peace and Freedom Party, has attacked the housing convention's efforts to have the City Council pass a rent control law. The referendum group charges that the council will, at best, approve only a weak rent control law.
After searching the City's Charter, the rent control referendum group has discovered that one section of its original law was illegal. The section in question provided that an elected board would administer rent control, whereas the City's charter provides that only city councillors and school committeemen can be elected. The law has been rewritten to provide for a three-man rent control board appointed by the City Manager.
The group, which claimed to have collected 8000 signatures on its original law, is now circulating its new law, to get the approximately 3400 valid signatures needed to put it on the ballot.