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California Apartment Association Appeals Judge’s Pasadena Rent Control Decision

Published on Thursday, May 11, 2023 | 4:54 am

The California Apartment Association said Wednesday it has appealed the unfavorable decision issued in its lawsuit challenging Pasadena’s rent control law, which was adopted by voters in the fall. 

A CAA spokesman said that once the Superior Court has provided the case record to the Court of Appeal – a process which can take several months – CAA will submit a brief to the appellate court arguing why the unfavorable portions of the earlier ruling could be overturned, to which the City of Pasadena and other parties can respond. 

After the case is fully briefed by the parties, there will be the opportunity to have oral argument in front of the panel of three judges who will decide the case.

In late March, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge denied most of the California Apartment Association’s claims challenging Pasadena’s rent and eviction control policies being implemented by Measure H.

CAA filed the original lawsuit in December, challenging the rent control law known as Measure H. The Measure was passed by nearly 54% of votes cast in the November election.

The association argued that the measure was an unlawful revision to the city’s charter, that the restrictions on who may serve on the rent board created to administer the law were unconstitutional, and that various provisions of the ordinance were preempted by state law.

In a 35-page ruling issued after the hearing, Judge Mary Strobel rejected a majority of CAA’s claims, finding that “Measure H does not fundamentally alter the Pasadena City Charter or the basic structure of city government in Pasadena.”

The judge also upheld the measure’s provisions requiring that tenants make up a super majority of the rent board. CAA had argued that these restrictions violated the state constitution, which prohibits conditioning the right to hold public office on a “property qualification,” as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the state and federal constitutions.

Strobel rejected these claims, finding that the state constitution’s prohibition on property qualifications was not applicable in this circumstance and that the equal protection clause was not implicated as landlords and tenants are not “similarly situated.”

The ruling further rejected CAA’s challenge to the measure’s requirement for landlords to pay relocation assistance to tenants who move out in response to a rent increase, which CAA asserted was an improper penalty on rental property owners who are exempt from rent control under the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. The judge found that since the requirement doesn’t directly restrict rent increases, Costa-Hawkins remains unviolated.

“We appreciate Judge Strobel’s time and effort in considering our case, and while we respect the thoroughness of her ruling, we believe most of her conclusions to be incorrect,” said Whitney Prout, CAA’s legal and compliance counsel. “We remain committed to advocating for the rights of rental property owners in Pasadena and will continue to explore all available options to address our concerns in relation to Measure H, including a possible appeal.”

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