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City Council Votes to Remain Neutral on Rent Control Initiative

Published on Tuesday, August 9, 2022 | 5:27 am

The City Council voted unanimously to remain neutral on a charter amendment rent control measure that has qualified for the November 2022 General Election ballot. 

Mayor Victor Gordo recused himself from the conversation to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. 

“We would still be in the majority if this were adopted,” said Councilmember Steve Madison. 

“I am concerned about capital flow going elsewhere,” said Councilmember Steve Madison. “Our biggest need is still to produce more housing and we struggle with that day in and day out.”

Madison said he could not find an economist that supported rent control. 

“I can’t even find a left-leaning economist,” Madison said at Monday’s meeting.

More than 33 people commented on the matter.

Councilmember Felicia Williams said rent control could keep poorer people out of apartments. 

“What happens under rent control is people with great credit and great jobs get the apartments and they keep them for 20 years,” Williams said. 

The ballot provision would amend the city’s Charter to cap annual rent increases at 2-3%.

A new rental housing board established under the city’s charter amendment would administer the requirements.

Landlords would only be allowed to evict tenants for just causes, like failure to pay rent.

California rents are among the highest in the nation. In some areas rents on apartments now top $3,000.

About half of Pasadena tenants pay over 30% of their income in rent, according to the coalition proposing the initiative. A quarter of the city’s tenants are severely rent-burdened, paying over 50% of their income in rent, the coalition’s statement said.

The proposed charter amendment would also close the “renoviction loophole,” and allow tenants to return to their rental if temporary relocation is necessary for health and safety-related repairs.

In addition, the charter amendment would stabilize rents by limiting increases to 75% of the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index and limiting increases to once a year.

The amendment also conforms to State law requiring a fair rate of return for landlords and allows tenants to petition for rent decreases if repairs are not made or services are withheld.

According to an analysis of the initiative, the amendment’s required creation of a rental board conflicts with the City Charter which solely gives the City Council the power to create such bodies.

“With respect to the subject charter amendment rent control measure, in addition to voting to file arguments against the measure, the City Council may as a body choose to remain neutral and not file any arguments,” according to a city staff report. 

“In that case, it is likely that an organized opposition group would prepare and file arguments against the measure. Further, members of the City Council could file arguments for or against the measure as individual voters eligible to vote on the measure, if any member(s) chose to do so.”

A coalition of the Pasadena Tenants Union and several partner organizations in the Pasadena community is behind the Pasadena Rent Control charter amendment campaign.

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