Whitey Bulger Jailed, Rent-Control Apartment Freed

whitey bulger apartmentThe FBI's arrest of Boston mobster Whitey Bulger and his girlfriend Catherine Greig in their Santa Monica apartment did more than merely capture a long-sought-after fugitive and charge him with a couple of dozen murders, extortion and a laundry list of other crimes.

It also freed up a rent-controlled unit in a pretty up-and-coming part of town. Not only can you walk to everything you need -- Bulger and Greig, who went by the names of Charles and Carole Gasko, managed to live there without owning a car (which frankly in Los Angeles is such a red flag we wonder why it took the FBI 16 years to find him). Remember, Los Angeles is a city where people take their cars to fetch the newspaper at the end of the driveway.Bulger and Greig lived in a one-bedroom apartment in the three-story Princess Eugenie complex on Santa Monica's Third Street for 15 years and reportedly paid a mere $1,100 a month in rent for their furnished unit. And if convenience and low rent weren't enough, I believe the building even has a laundry room.

Which all gets back to rent control, which was enacted in Santa Monica in 1979 and limits the amount of an annual increase that a landlord may impose. When a rent-controlled unit is vacated by the tenant voluntarily, all bets are off and it may be rented out to a new tenant at fair market value -- in this case, probably more than double what Whitey was paying. So while having a police team surround your home and cart you off in handcuffs may not appear to be a voluntary departure, Whitey is bound back to Boston and his Santa Monica rent-controlled home likely to return to the open market.

How strong will interest be in moving into a unit formerly occupied by such an infamous guy? We suspect the line is around the block.

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