Local Reaction Divided Over Sacramento Deal Which Could Cap Rent Increases

Published : Saturday, August 31, 2019 | 5:03 AM

A leading Pasadena rent control activist praised the legislative agreement reached late Friday with Gov. Gavin Newsom in Sacramento that could protect local tenants from large rent increases, while a Chamber of Commerce executive predicted developers would stop building apartments and switch to condominiums as a result.

The yet-to-be-finalized deal, a revamped version of Assembly Bill 1842, would limit rent increases throughout California to 5%, plus the cost of inflation, for the next ten years.

In a statement from Newsom, Senate leader Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and bill author Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), the legislators said Friday, “The bill will protect millions of renters from rent-gouging and evictions and build on the Legislature’s work this year to address our broader housing crisis.”

Pasadena activist Ed Washatka of Pasadenans Organizing for Progress (POP!) sounded optimistic late Friday. “This version is much better for tenants than a 7% cap,” which was previously discussed, he said.

“It also seems to have better protections against unjust evictions,” Washatka observed.

Paul Little, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, commented Friday that “Under Costa-Hawkins, they can only apply this to 30-plus-year-old buildings, since it is de facto rent control.”

The 1995 Costa–Hawkins Rental Housing Act (“Costa–Hawkins”) prohibits cities from establishing rent control over certain kinds of residential units, such as single-family units, and newly constructed apartment units.

“It won’t incentivize building new rental housing,” Little added. “People in the affected apartments get a nice entitlement, and developers will opt to build condos, not apartments.”

Meanwhile, the Pasadena Tenant Justice Coalition is currently working on a second attempt to place a local rent control and unjust eviction protection measure on the March 3, 2020 ballot. A similar effort in 2018 failed to collect enough signatures to qualify.

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