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Guest Opinion | Councilmember Jess Rivas: Accountability Is On the Ballot 

Published on Sunday, October 30, 2022 | 1:52 pm
 

Accountability is on the ballot right now. 

In Pasadena, as in every California city, there are laws designed to protect tenants’ rights. The California Civil Code sets out the “implied warrant of habitability,” which cannot be waived. For example, premises must have adequate waterproofing/weather protection; plumbing; hot and cold running water; heating; floors, stairways, and railings in good repair; locks on doors and windows; and more. There are additional habitability requirements found in the California Health and Safety Code. 

Still, tenants routinely report that their homes are not habitable by these standards and enforcement is weak, at best. By their own admission, the Code Compliance Division of the City’s Planning and Community Development Department is behind on their Quadrennial Inspection Program and is struggling to keep up with the demand. It is no wonder that the Pasadena Tenants Union gets a constant stream of calls from tenants with habitability violations which are often unaddressed. 

Who is looking out for tenants and enforcing the law? Tenants are essentially on their own to try to enforce their rights against wealthy and powerful real estate investors. 

Measure H would bring urgently needed accountability to the landlords who prey upon this imbalance of power, which especially harms those with lower than average incomes. Under Measure H, when a tenant has habitability concerns that go unaddressed by the landlord, the tenant can appeal to the rent board for help to achieve a resolution. If the landlord still refuses to make the legally required repairs, the board can give the tenant a temporary reduction in rent until the problem is solved. Boards like this have existed throughout the state for decades and Pasadena should join them. 

It is time to listen to tenants for once. They are the majority of Pasadena residents and are telling us what they so desperately need. The voices of the real estate industry, corporate landlords, Chamber of Commerce, and politicians should not ring louder than that of the 58% who rent. 

This is our chance to actually help the majority of residents and do some good. Please do not let this chance slip away. Vote YES on Measure H!

Councilmember Jess Rivas represents District 5 on the Pasadena City Council.

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