Pasadena Rent Control Advocates Marshaling Forces

The Pasadena Tenants’ Union is currently drafting language for 2020 Pasadena Rent Control ordinance plans to begin gathering signatures in November

Published : Monday, June 17, 2019 | 5:12 AM

[Updated] Organizers of a petition to place a Pasadena rent control measure and “just cause” evictions restrictions on the 2020 ballot are currently finalizing the official language of the petition before submitting it to the City Clerk in the fall, according to a spokesperson for the local group sponsoring the effort.

This comes in spite of Pasadena  City Council efforts to toughen the City’s Tenant Protection Ordinance to provide greater protection to some evicted tenants.

“We are currently in the ‘building community support’ phase, while we work on finalizing the language of the actual piece of legislation that we’ll be submitting,” said Westley Garcia of the Pasadena Tenants’ Union on Friday.

Garcia said he anticipates that the petition will be accepted as properly filed in time for signature gathering in November.

Garcia also explained that the group is currently canvassing in the community, and scheduling events and public workshops, to “get more voices as part of the conversation.”

According to Garcia, the group is currently trying to determine “What is the most helpful tenant protection,” and “What aspects of rent control are most appealing to the voters of Pasadena?”

Though no actual work or signature gathering can be done before approval by the City Clerk, Garcia believes recent surveys show “overwhelming support” for a rent control ordinance.

Said Garcia, “I think the tenants of Pasadena, as well as the homeowners, are seeking ways to protect the community.”

“People who have invested in Pasadena,” continued Garcia, “have stories of people being evicted, and having spent their entire lives having raising their children in our city, and so it should be a part of something that helps preserve that community spirit, that is important,” and we’re looking for anyone that’s going to be a part of that.”

Last month, advocacy group Pasadenans Organizing for Progress (POP) issued the results of a poll it said showed 69% of Pasadena voters polled would support a rent control ordinance in Pasadena.

At the same time, the group said its poll showed an even larger number of voters—82%—would support a law preventing landlords from evicting tenants unless there is a valid reason, such as not paying rent, destruction of property, or exhibiting loud or violent behavior.

The group said the telephone survey of 700 Pasadenans was conducted by David Binder Research from January 30 through February 5, 2019 and has an error rate of +/- 3.7%.

The poll also reported that rent control had 81% support in District 5, Councilmember Victor Gordo’s district, with the lowest support, 61%, in Councilmember Andy Wilson’s District 7, according to the group.

In March, the Pasadena City Council approved three modifications to the City’s Tenant Protection Ordinance:

  • Tenants whose buildings are sold to new owners and face increased rents or evictions are now eligible for compensation under the Pasadena’s Tenant Protection Ordinance.
  • The second modification would increase the Ordinance’s Relocation Allowance amount to 2.5 times the HUD Fair Market Rent.
  • The third modification would increase the relocation allowance for tenants who have maintained a tenancy for a minimum period of 10 years.

Previously, Pasadena landlords were required to pay relocation benefits to displaced tenants in various situations, including when a rental unit is vacated due to demolition, conversion to condominium, permanent removal of the unit from the rental market, occupancy by the landlord or a family member; or a government order to vacate.

The ordinance was approved in its final version last week and will take effect in mid-July.

In related news, Pasadena Tenant Justice Coalition (PTJC) will hold a community event, “Housing Justice Panel Discussion: Rent Control & Eviction Protections,” Thursday, June 20, at Throop Church, 300 South Los Robles Avenue at 7 p.m. , with former Santa Monica Mayor Denny Zane, a founding member of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, and Francisco Dueñas, Housing Justice Campaign director.