Pasadena Rent Control Initiative Coming Up Short of Signatures Needed to Qualify for November Ballot

Published : Thursday, May 10, 2018 | 6:36 PM

Pasadena rent control initiative supporters earlier this month conduct and "Drive-in-Sign" campaign. Image via Facebook

Backers of a Pasadena rent control initiative said this week they have collected significantly fewer signatures than needed to qualify their measure for the November ballot and they are running out of time to reach their goal.

An email from the Pasadena Fair and Equitable Housing Coalition and the Pasadena Tenants Union said their efforts had resulted in collecting 8,679 signatures as of May 8.

In order to qualify for the ballot, the initiative must garner at least 12,982 signatures and be turned in to City Clerk Mark Jomsky by May 30, the group said.

Their efforts had been bolstered by an infusion of tens of thousands of dollars worth of signature collection services by a statewide organization which was instrumental in getting a rent control-related initiative on the State ballot.

“While we missed the deadline for a guarantee to be on the November 6th ballot we still have time to collect signatures within the 180 days to circulate the petition,” the groups told supporters. “Our goal is 16,000 [signatures].”

Both the Fair and Equitable Housing Coalition and the Tenants Union vowed to continue to fight for rent control whether or not their initiative appears on the ballot.

“Whether we make it in November 2018 or November 2020 the Coalition will continue to fight for one of the best affordable housing options available, Rent Control!” the email said.

The proposed initiative would be a City Charter amendment, which must be approved by a vote of the citizens. Supporters said they preferred going the amendment route rather than attempting to pass a rent control ordinance through the City Council. The amendment would only regulate multi-unit apartments.

Under the proposal, a Pasadena landlord would be able to raise rent annually by the percentage increase of the Consumer Price Index, though the annual rent increase would be capped at 4.5%.

The measure would also require the City to adopt just cause eviction policies — which limit the reasons a landlord can evict a tenant — and establish an independent rental housing board.

The notice of intent to circulate the rent control petition was filed November 30, 2017 with Pasadena’s City Clerk. By February, members of the Pasadena Tenants Union claimed they were canvassing seven days a week and going door-to-door in virtually every city neighborhood to secure the thousands of signatures needed to qualify the charter amendment for the ballot.

Also in February, the Pasadena Fair and Equitable Housing Coalition reported that a committee sponsored by the statewide Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Action had begun to donate signature collection services to the Pasadena effort.

That month, the Los Angeles-based Committee to Save Our Neighborhoods contributed $5,394 in services on February 16 and $8,642 in services on February 24, following those with a third signature drive in March valued at $7,751 — by far the largest outside contributions reported by the Pasadena Fair Equitable Housing Charter Amendment Committee.

In the email, the Pasadena Fair and Equitable Housing Coalition and the Pasadena Tenants Union urged supporters to continue getting signatures and to turn in their packets on May 22.

On May 24, the email said, the group will either turn in the needed number of signatures or make a public statement announcing they did not collect enough.

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