Nicole Susan Phillis is a first-term Commissioner on the Santa Monica Rent Control Board, on which she served as Chair from 2016-2017. As a Rent Control Board Commissioner, Nicole serves on both the legislative and technology committees. Nicole is also an active member in the Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, and California Democrat Parties. Nicole served as the convener for the 2017 Assembly District Election Meeting, hosting a record-breaking 1200+ registered Democrats from Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Agoura Hills, Topanga, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood in their biannual meeting to elect representatives to the California Democratic Party. Nicole also serves as a delegate to the California Democratic Party (2017-2018) and an alternate member of the alps Angeles County Democratic Party. Prior to being elected to the Rent Control Board in 2014, Nicole also served as a Commissioner on the Santa Monica Commission on the Status of Women, which she chaired from 2014-2016.
Nicole has spent her career fighting injustice and standing up for the rights of women and families. It’s a passion she learned from her mother, Mary, an adult education administrator, her father, Hugh, an orthodontist, and her five siblings, Daniella, Andrea, Stephanie, Kendra, and Hugh William.
Growing up in Nashua, New Hampshire, Nicole was raised on the values of hard work, unapologetic honesty, and community education.
Nicole graduated valedictorian from Providence College, with a dual degree in Political Science and Women’s Studies, and a thesis in comparative state stability in Latin America. Initially torn between graduate school and law school, Nicole enrolled at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia because she believed a law degree was the best way she could help shape and create a more just society. Nicole graduated from Emory Law with high honors and Order of the Coif, spending her final year as the Executive Articles Editor on the Emory Law Journal and writing extensively on the regulation of adolescent sexuality, abortion and teen pregnancy.
In 2011, after working for one year at a large law firm in Atlanta, Nicole moved across the country, to Santa Monica, to clerk for the Honorable Milan D. Smith, Jr. on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. As a law clerk, Nicole learned first hand the sacredness of fidelity to the law, of upholding precedent, and in applying the law fairly and without ideological bias.
After clerking, Nicole moved into private practice, first working as an associate at Munger Tolles & Olson, and eventually moving to Davis Wright Tremaine, where she currently practices.
As a litigator at Davis Wright Tremaine, Nicole works on bet-the-company, high stakes disputes in the media, entertainment, arts, business and health industries. She also maintains an active pro bono practice, which she currently focuses almost exclusively on representing asylum seekers and refugees. Prior to the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, Nicole co-authored briefs in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth and Tenth Circuits in support of marriage equality.
In her first term as a Commissioner on the Rent Control Board, Nicole has worked closely with community stakeholders and her colleagues on the Board to enact progressive change and to make Santa Monica a more just and inclusive community for all residents. As a renter herself, Nicole understands first hand the invaluable security and stability that rent control provides to tenants. Since 2014, she has:
- led reforms to ban rentals of controlled units, which are severely depleting our housing stock;
- passed regs to cap bond surcharge pass-throughs at $35 and eliminate them for new tenancies;
- supported registration of landlord buyouts to increase transparency and negotiating power between tenants and landlords;
- passed regulations to require landlords with owner occupancy exemptions to provide annual recertifications;
- called for a study of the Ellis Act and zoning laws to better understand the way neighborhood planning may correlate to Ellis Activity;
- lobbied City Council to re-evaluate its laws on corporate rentals, tenant harassment, and Ellis Act compensation in the wake of new renters rights challenges
Nicole never expected to run for office, but was called to service by the values she saw shining vibrantly in Santa Monica. She lives on the Wilmont/NOMA line with her nine-year-old Golden Retriever, Loki.