City Council To Review Proposed Tenant Protection Ordinance Expansion

Published : Monday, June 3, 2019 | 5:33 AM

The Pasadena City Council will get a first look Monday at final wording of ordinance expanding the class of renters eligible for relocation and moving expense allowances, from their landlords, to those displaced by ownership changes in their buildings.

The City Council is set to receive and discuss the City Attorney’s first draft of a measure to amend the existing Tenant Protection Ordinance (TPO) at its June 3 meeting.

Broadly speaking, the changes are, “intended to provide more assistance to displaced tenants and to keep pace with the rapidly rising rental housing market,” according to agenda documents.

Specifically, the proposed amendments would expand the scope of the TPO, applying it to tenants, “that are displaced in connection with a change in ownership of rental properties due to large rent increases, lease terminations, or evictions.”

Currently, Pasadena landlords are required to pay relocation benefits when a rental unit is vacated for demolition or condo conversion, when removed from the rental market, occupied by the landlord or their family; or in the case of a government order to vacate.

The proposal would also increase relocation allowances in recognition of the fact Pasadena rental rates, “are increasing faster than [U.S. Housing and Urban Development] (HUD) fair market rental values,” according to city staff.

A qualifying tenant, or one in good standing for purposes of the ordinance, is living in a household at or below 140 percent of the median income, by household size.

The landlord would be required to pay two and one-half months fair market rents as established by HUD).

The moving expenses allowance is currently $1,199 for adult households and $3,608 for households with dependents, disabled or senior members. Under the proposal, those payouts would increase to $1,306 and $3,935 respectively.

These allowances would be increased annually, in accordance with changes in the HUD fair market rents.

Under the proposal, those who have been displaced after a tenancy of 10 years or more would be entitled to “enhanced” relocation payouts.

The amendment establishes a 10 percent increase in the base relocation allowance in each year after the 10th anniversary, for 10 years. The ordinance does not specify how moving expenses would be calculated.

This is the first reading of the ordinance, as prepared by the City Attorney, following the city council’s action in March, essentially expressing its intent to pass an expansion of tenants protections and establishing the measure’s parameters.

It will come back to the City Council for a second and final reading before it becomes law.

There is a separate section of the ordinance covering teachers, students, and staffers renting from the educational institutions that employ them.

In the case their tenancy has been terminated more than a year after they discontinued enrollment or employment at the landlord institution, they would be entitled to a relocation allowance of twice the HUD fair market rent for a studio unit and moving expenses of $1,200.

Renters rights activists in Pasadena were nonplussed when the City Council established the general contents of the proposed ordinance back in March. The changes found in the City Attorney’s draft have done nothing to amplify their enthusiasm.

“Those two changes make it very clear the political class is aligning themselves with the landlord class in our city,” said Pablo Alvarado, National Day Laborers Organizing Committee Network. “In terms of long-term revenue, it’s okay for landlords to pay $1,000 so that people can move out, and they can bring in more affluent people. That’s exactly how gentrification works.”

“It still seems to me more like a ‘please leave Pasadena’ ordinance rather than a protection ordinance,” said Allison Henry, Pasadena Tenants Justice Coalition, which has announced a drive to ballot a rent control initiative for the 2020 elections.

Henry said signature-gathering has yet to begin.

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