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BOSTON-In a move that took city Mayor Thomas M. Menino by surprise but has the real estate community cheering, the city council rejected the mayor’s petition to bring back rent control to the city. But the administration is planning to resubmit an amended form of the petition early next year.

“We’re obviously pleased with the results,” says Ed Shanahan of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board. The five-to-four vote means that this rent control petition will not even reach the state legislature. But city councilor Chuck Turner, who voted for the measure, tells GlobeSt.com that a new ordinance for rent control will be filed by early next year. By then, the city council will have two new members, one of whom has indicated that he is supportive of resurrecting rent control. It is unclear where the other new city council member stands.

The city’s real estate community fiercely opposed the mayor’s attempt to reinstate rent control, with some national developers threatening to look to other cities for their residential projects. But Turner dismisses those threats as “scare tactics” noting that the mayor’s proposal was rent stabilization as opposed to rent control. “This sets a standard,” he says. “If someone feels [the rent] is not appropriate, they can appeal to a board which will review the situation. This is looking to stabilize rents.”

From 1972 to 1996, the city had rent control but the legislature abolished it in 1994. The measure took two years to phase out. Turner points out that new construction does not fall under Menino’s recent proposal, but projects that were developed in the mid 1990s until now, when the city had no rent control, would now fall under the law.

Turner notes that the city’s downtown building boom happened while rent control was in effect. “We shouldn’t be scared off by dire threats,” he says. Turner adds that in 1986, there were 25,000 building permits issued in the city as opposed to an average of 11,000 to 12,000 annually since rent control was abolished.

But Tom Meagher, of Northeast Apartment Advisors, tells GlobeSt.com that during the last period of rent control, federal affordable-housing programs were in their heyday with thousands of units created through these programs. “That’s why there was production then. Uncle Sam is not in that business anymore,” he points out. “The only projects being created now are those that pay their own way.”

Shanahan agrees. He adds, “Rent control was put in place in the 1970s because of the existence of a housing emergency. Any solution that hasn’t solved that emergency problem in 20 years is not the solution,” he says. “It didn’t happen then and it’s not going to happen now.”

But city councilor Maura Henigan, who supports the proposal, counters that the real estate community has been unrestricted for the last six years and “look what has happened to the market.”

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