Pasadena Tenants Union Remains Intent Upon Winning Local Rent Control Initiative

Published : Thursday, January 16, 2020 | 6:00 AM

Pasadena rent control initiative supporters in May, 2018 campaigning for a rent control initiative which failed to qualify for the ballot. This year, the backers are forging ahead with a new initiative despite new state laws that cap rent increases at 5 percent annually and prevent landlords from evicting tenants without just cause. Image via Facebook

[Updated] Members of the Pasadena Tenants Union (PTU) told Pasadena Now that they are still pursuing a rent control initiative despite statewide laws that cap rent increases at 5 percent annually plus the inflation rate of the region and prevent landlords from evicting tenants without just cause.

“We will still be pursuing local rent control, which means a tighter cap, a housing/rental board, and a once a year limit on increases,” said Allison Henry of the PTU. “But there is much to do around protecting tenants in their homes in Pasadena. There is much to do around protecting vulnerable seniors, working people of color, and families in our community. We are eager to continue the work.”

Last year the Pasadena City Council unanimously approved an expanded Tenant Protection Ordinance that placed a moratorium on evictions without just cause and rolled back rents retroactive to March 15 for tenants still in the eviction process.

The ordinance sunsetted on Jan. 1 when the Tenant Protection Act, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, went into effect. Despite the caps on rent increases and ban on no-fault evictions, members of the PTU claim the new law does not do enough to protect local tenants.

“The Pasadena Tenants Justice Coalition (PTJC) is still pursuing a Pasadena charter amendment ballot initiative for the November 2020 ballot which would provide real rent control,” said Ryan Bell who is running for the City Council in District 6.

“AB1482 is an anti-rent gouging protection. We still need real rent control. Under AB1482 rents can still increase by 8 to 9 percent annually depending on the cost of living increase for that year, which still far outstrips wage increases for the vast majority of tenants. I’m especially concerned for senior citizens who live on fixed incomes whose Social Security payments do not increase by more than 2 to 3 percent per year, if that much.”

PTJC will soon begin collecting signatures to place an initiative on the ballot in Nov 2020.

In Alhambra, a landlord ignored an emergency moratorium and took local tenants to court and refused to cash their checks.

Henry claims the same type of behavior is continuing in Pasadena.

“We are still seeing landlords and management companies serve illegal notices, not cash rent checks and ignore tenant letters re being protected,” she said. “One tenant even had a supporting letter from the Housing Rights Center, and his landlord is taking him to court anyway. The law is a good first step, but more is needed due to the number of bad actors in this space.”

In Pasadena, the median rate for an apartment is now at $2,800. Some one-bedroom units go for $3,000 a month, and the city is not alone.

The skyrocketing costs of housing have impacted residents across the state. The high cost of housing has increased homelessness across the state. Last year, the L.A. Times reported that 59,000 people are living on the streets of Los Angeles County. About 16,000 of those people are living in their cars. Gyms have started memberships that allow homeless people use of their showers.

Authorities say as baby boomers enter their senior years the risk of them facing homelessness increases.

Recent efforts to take rent control ordinances to the voters failed in Pasadena after organizers came up short on the necessary number of signatures. A similar measure in Glendale also failed to make the ballot after the city clerk deemed the petition “deficient and invalid.”

Only a handful of Southern California cities have rent control ordinances, including Los Angeles, Santa Monica, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

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