Reacting to reports that tenants are being evicted to make room for new, higher-paying tenants before a rent cap law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom goes into effect Jan. 1, Mayor Terry Tornek said Monday the Pasadena City Council will vote next week on an eviction moratorium similar to one instituted by Los Angeles.
The emergency moratorium would stop landlords from evicting tenants without cause ahead of a January 1 deadline, when the new rent cap law—SB 1482—would go into effect.
Most yearly rent increases over the next decade will be limited to 5% plus inflation. Tenants will receive protections against being evicted without cause, under the new state rent cap law.
The fast-track effort by the Council to agendize, vote, pass and approve the new moratorium in just one week came with added urgency after a well-known Los Angeles eviction attorney recently advised local landlords to begin no-fault evictions and to raise rents immediately.
Eviction attorney Dennis Block reportedly told an audience of landlords and income property owners at the AAGLA Conference at the Pasadena Convention Center on October 2 that they should implement no-fault evictions to low-rent tenants and raise remaining rents, ahead of the passage of SB 1482.
Local tenants, as well as members of the Pasadena Tenants Union (PTU), Socialists of Caltech (SoC), Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group (GPAHG), POP! (Pasadenans Organizing for Progress), the Pasadena Tenant Justice Coalition (PTJC), and Alliance for Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), asked the Pasadena City Council to immediately put a halt to all no-cause evictions and 60-day notices until AB 1482 becomes law.
As the first series of speakers testified before the Council, Councilmember Margaret McAustin interrupted to ask Mayor Tornek to agendize the issue for a vote next week.
Tornek responded that City staff were already working on the issue, and the item would be on next week’s agenda.
Councilmembers Steve Madison and Gene Masuda then also weighed in with their support.
Councilmember Victor Gordo added, “We need to research this quickly.”
Councilmember Gene Masuda then went a step further and asked Mayor Tornek if the emergency order could be enacted retroactively, so that tenants already served with evictions over the past few weeks could be included.
Tornek said he would discuss that with City staff and the City Attorney’s office.
The Pasadena Tenants’ Union (PTU) also took the unusual step of providing legal wording of the emergency moratorium for the Council to consider for the vote.
Their order reads, in part, “The City Council finds the foregoing recitals to be true and correct and hereby incorporates such findings into this ordinance. The City Council further finds that there is a necessity to expedite and pass this ordinance by the powers given to the City Council under Section 510 of the City Charter due to rapidly escalating rents that, through the displacement of low and moderate-income residents directly, threaten the welfare and public health of the City.”
The PTU ordinance continued:
“From the effective date of this urgency ordinance and continuing until such time as the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (AB 1482) becomes effective, no landlord shall be entitled to recover possession of a rental unit covered by the terms of this ordinance unless said landlord shows the existence of “just cause” as defined within Section 3(b) below while this urgency ordinance is in effect. The provisions of this urgency ordinance shall apply to all residential rental units not specified below to be exempt, including where a notice to vacate or quit any such rental unit has been served prior to, as of, or after the effective date of this urgency ordinance but where an unlawful detainer judgment has not yet been issued as of the effective date of this urgency ordinance.”
Allison Henry of the PTU also told the Council that the current rent crisis “affects local schools,” noting that the PUSD last week shuttered Wilson Middle School, as it deals with declining district-wide attendance.
“Work with us,” Henry told the Council. “We want to work with you.”