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Guest Opinion | Pasadena City Council Candidate Brandon D. Lamar: Taking Rent Control To the Ballot Box and to City Hall

Published on Wednesday, May 18, 2022 | 5:53 am
 

It’s tragic when someone who was born and raised in Pasadena cannot afford to live here.

It’s upsetting that a mother has to choose between clothing and rent.

It’s a shame that a mother has to choose between having the lights on and paying rent.

It’s sickening that a mother has to choose between food and rent.

I’m Brandon D. Lamar. I’ve lived in Pasadena since I was a baby. I know too many people from our community who have to make the choice between basic necessities of life and rent. It is for them, and for all others who struggle to thrive, that I am compelled into public service. It is for them that I am running for Pasadena City Council in District 3. When elected, I would be the only City Council member who is a renter, just like 62% of my fellow Pasadenans.

My opponent, the incumbent and a landlord, believes, “Rent control is a well-intentioned bad idea.” I believe the rent control measure that will be on the ballot in November elections, along with other renter relief measures, is a necessity for our city. Rent control would ensure generations of families can choose to remain in Pasadena and new families can afford to move here. Like my own parents who live on a fixed income, many longtime residents are pushed out of Pasadena by excessive rent hikes. Additionally, many landlords take no responsibility in maintaining their housing units resulting in unhealthy and hazardous living conditions for tenants.

Rent control addresses other fundamental problems of Pasadena. Lack of rent control exacerbates the homelessness crisis in Pasadena and disproportionately affects Black/Latino households of which 70% are renters. Significant rent increases detrimentally affects our local public schools. Pasadena Unified School District continues to lose students. Decline in enrollment leads to less funding to schools and eventual school closures. Newly built one-bedroom housing units do not support families. Without rent control, we will continue to lose families and therefore Pasadena’s future generation.

This is the reality we live in.

This is why getting rent control on the ballot is so monumental. The ballot measure will establish both ‘just cause’ eviction and rent control protections. ‘Just cause’ eviction will limit how landlords can give the boot to tenants, narrowing it down to such things as the non-payment of rent or a breach of contract, and it will provide relocation financial assistance for a tenant. The rent control policy limits increases to once a year and stabilizes rents by limiting increases to 75 percent of the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index.

Residents of Pasadena have been asking the city council for 20 years. It took months of volunteer hours and thousands of dollars to get it on the ballot. It is because of the hard work of the people of Pasadena that we have made this historic step towards passing rent control.

The truth is, the city council had the authority to pass rent control all along but ignored us. When elected, I will take the fight to city hall, amplifying the voice of renters and pushing the path to victory in November.

Brandon D. Lamar is the California director of Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), which supports youth and families involved in the youth justice and child welfare systems. YAP focuses on individuals with behavioral health needs, young people with developmental disabilities and/or struggling with educational challenges; and adults returning from prison. He currently chairs the City of Pasadena Human Relations Commission and is an Executive Board Member of Pasadena NAACP, Pasadena Organizing for Progress, and Leadership Pasadena.   For more information about his campaign, go to www.BrandonForPasadena.com. 

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