Santa Monica Rent Control Board
Primary Audience: Board members and local government officials Items Produced: Annual Report
The Santa Monica Rent Control Board has oversight responsibility for about 28,000 rental-housing units, representing approximately 70% of the rental units in this small but densely populated city in Southern California.
Producing an annual report that sparks conversations starts by knowing your audience, asking the right questions, and carefully presenting the data to create a compelling narrative.
Such was the case when I helped produce the 2012 annual report for the Santa Monica Rent Control Board when I was still a member of the Public Information staff. While I wrote several sections of the report, I was also responsible for the overall design and project management.
This 12,000 word report was organized around a central theme: the disappearing middle-class as a result of increasingly high-priced rental housing in this seaside community. I organized and designed the annual report so that each page would focus on one main idea. This approach–which included carefully selected graphic elements, call outs, and well-designed charts–allowed crucial supporting evidence to take center stage.
When it was released, the 2012 annual report generated intense coverage in the local press, with several sections being quoted verbatim.
Strategic goals for the annual report included:
- Combine and simplify three reports into a single document
- Create and support a compelling narrative
- Convey important facts in a format that allows essential details to stand out
Design: Sonia Quinones
Whittling Away At Economic Diversity
Between 2000 and 2010, Santa Monica experienced a significant loss of households at every income level below $75,000. By 2010, there were 5,382 fewer households with incomes below $75,000, a drop of 22 percent. In other words, the city is losing both middle- and low-income households.
However, when the household data is divided into its component parts (married-couple families, other families, people living alone and other non-family households) there was a 13-percent increase in the number of families with annual incomes between $15,000 and $24,999. This increase, totaling 192 families, is likely due to the construction of affordable housing units pursuant to the City’s “Affordable Housing Production Program,” density bonuses granted through the planning process, the City’s aggressive efforts to provide housing voucher assistance for low-income households and Community Corporation of Santa Monica’s expansion of their rental housing stock.
In other words, if the City did not have affordable housing programs, the loss of households in this income category would have been much greater than the loss indicated in Figure 10.