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On March 21, Santa Barbara’s City Council met to consider whether we needed new ordinances for just-cause evictions, mandatory leases, mandatory inspections, and enhanced mediation. I believe Santa Barbarans have the ability to work together and listen to each other, then unite behind solutions that are best for the community as a whole. I pushed hard for the formation of a task force that would include the tenant group CAUSE [Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy] so we could discuss and develop solutions together.

The important issues for the Task Force are the ones the city directed us to address: Where and how are problems occurring? Which are significant community issues? What protections exist and do they work? If not, what is remedy?

The vacancy rate is not the issue. We all agree it is painfully low. I gave the Independent the vacancy rates from the Dyer reports I had: 1.74 percent April 2015 and 1.68 percent October 2016. Regardless if the vacancy rate is zero percent or 10 percent, renters should have the same legal protection.

Good policy is made with good information. Bad policy is made in haste without information. I am delighted the city has provided the opportunity for the members of the task force to gather this information and jointly propose solutions for our community.

Laura Bode is executive director of the Santa Barbara Rental Property Association.

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