Guest Opinion | Pasadena’s Tenant Ordinance Fundamentally Fails to Address Our Affordable Housing Crisis

Published : Friday, March 29, 2019 | 10:38 AM

The Pasadena City Council approved modifications to the City’s Tenant Protection Ordinance (TPO), a law that covers relocation and moving benefits for a narrow subset of displaced tenants. Fewer than 100 households have been able to avail themselves of the ordinance’s limited benefits during the 15 years it has been in operation. At best, the TPO is window dressing; those most familiar with its provisions dismiss the ordinance as a cynical attempt to fool the public into believing that the City is providing housing security for Pasadena renters.

Tenants and their advocates call upon their leaders to enact meaningful changes to the ordinance, such as:

Providing relocation assistance and moving costs for all tenants in good standing who are evicted without just cause.

Basing relocation benefits on the rents charged by for-profit landlords, not on HUD’s below-market rents which are routinely at least $1,000/month under private market rents.

Conducting the Housing Element mandated studies that the Planning Department promised to undertake in 2016 – one of which was a complete review of the TPO, and the other of which was an analysis of how the City can preserve its existing affordable housing stock.

The TPO is significantly outdated. It does not reflect the changes in Pasadena’s rental marketplace, nor the growing influence of corporate ownership in the City’s single and multifamily housing industry, nor the permanent and disproportionate displacement of renters of color and of tenants with disabilities. Notwithstanding these conditions, the Council instructed staff to refrain from researching any rent control or just cause eviction protections in connection with any proposed TPO modifications. With only a scant empirical analysis, the Council relied almost exclusively upon anecdotal offerings from landlords in reaffirming the City’s obsolete original TPO and enacted the modest staff-proposed modifications.

Although the Council professes concern regarding the loss of its affordable housing stock, it once again signaled a green light to the real estate industry to act with impunity to evict tenants without cause and to increase their rents to exorbitant heights. Renters constitute 56% of Pasadena’s residents; we are dismayed that our Council continues to exhibit so little concern for our housing stability.

This piece was submitted by the Pasadena Tenants Union (PTU), which describes itself as a grassroots movement founded in November 2016, whose membership body is volunteer. The Union advocates for renter rights and tenant protections from displacement caused by gentrification. The Union says it believes housing is a human right and renters have an inalienable right to safe, decent, stable and affordable housing. For more, see pasadenatenantsunion.com

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