Pasadena School Board Votes to Support Rent Control Initiative

Unusual 4-0-3 vote passes the resolution; Cahalan: ‘Still up to rent control people to get it passed’

Published : Tuesday, April 3, 2018 | 5:31 AM

Board Members

With four board members supporting it and three members abstaining, the Pasadena Unified School District Board voted last Thursday evening to approve a resolution to officially support the “Pasadena Fair and Equitable Housing Charter Amendment,” currently collecting voter signatures in Pasadena for next November’s election.

“Declining enrollments affect everything we do in this district, and those are affected by rising rents,” said Board Member Scott Phelps, in introducing the resolution.

The resolution affirms that “PUSD recognizes renting families as a priority” and asserts that “supporting PUSD means supporting renting families and supporting affordable rental housing in Pasadena.”

Although the Board was divided over the decision, no members voted against supporting the measure.

Phelps also told the board in the discussion, “In 2004-2005 we closed four schools because we lost 1,100 families, and 1,000 of them were in Northwest Pasadena.”

Continued Phelps, “I’ve always known of the effects of rising rents on our families, and I have even explained to others in other cities, that if your district has 64.5% of its students receiving lunch aid, and who are economically disadvantaged, then rising rents are going to affect you than in places where there are more mortgages.”

Board member Patrick Cahalan told the Board that rent control has “tremendous support” in the community, particularly among Caltech graduate students.

“It’s a blunt instrument,” said Cahalan, “and it’s hard to use it. If it’s done badly, you end up with people moving out anyway.”

Admitting that he was not generally in favor of rent control, Cahalan explained that, “It is, at this moment, the tool in the toolbox that can produce results in this town. This is something we can do. The rent control people still have to do their job to get the measure on the ballot and passed.”

Cahalan said the School’s Board’s support would be “an important symbolic gesture.”

Melissa Richardson-Bailey, the Board’s newest member, said she would not only support the resolution but would volunteer to help collect signatures for the measure.

Board Members Kimberly Kenne, Lawrence Torres, and Roy Boulghourjian all voted to abstain on the resolution—Torres, because he does not live in Pasadena; Kenne, because she felt she did not have enough information; and Boulghourjian, because he felt there was “no proof” that rent control works.

“I’m not ready to vote on this,” Boulghourjian told the Board.

Fred Sutton, representing the California Apartment Owners Association, was adamantly opposed to the resolution, and told the Board that “Rent control is counterproductive and does not work,” and “would not create a single new housing unit.”

According to Pasadena Tenants Union chair Nicole Hodgson, the proposed measure will require 12,892 valid signatures by May in order to qualify for the November 6, 2018 ballot.

blog comments powered by Disqus