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Judge Shuts Down Lawsuit That Would Have Blocked Rent Control in Pasadena

Published on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 | 6:08 pm

On Tuesday, a judge ruled in favor of the City in a lawsuit brought by an apartment owners’ lobby group to invalidate Measure H, the rent control initiative.

Lawyers for the California Apartment Association and five Pasadena landlords had argued Measure H was unconstitutional and constituted an illegal revision of the City Charter.

“Petitioners cannot prevail by suggesting that in some future hypothetical situation constitutional problems may possibly arise as to the particular application of the statute,” Judge Mary Strobel wrote in her ruling. “Rather, petitioners must demonstrate that the act’s provisions inevitably pose a present total and fatal conflict with applicable constitutional prohibitions.”

The ruling will allow the City to establish a Housing Rental Board which will be responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the rent control initiative. 

“I am grateful that this process is finally over,” said organizer Ryan Bell. “There has been so much confusion with landlords claiming that the lawsuit meant Measure H wasn’t in effect until a judge decided. This was never true but it didn’t stop landlords from saying it and tenants from getting scared by it. Now all that is behind us and we can implement the will of the voters!”

A City spokesperson said the judge respected the will of the voters in the ruling.

“We are pleased the court agreed with nearly all of our arguments, and respected the will of Pasadena voters, who approved the establishment of a Rental Housing Board,” said Pasadena Public Information Officer Lisa Derderian. “It is anticipated that the City Council will be considering appointments to the Rental Housing Board at its April 17 meeting.”

Measure H passed last November with nearly 54% of the vote. The measure went into effect on December 22.

Pasadena rents have reportedly skyrocketed with some apartments renting for more than $3,000 a month.

As part of the lawsuit, landlords claimed that the measure constituted a Charter revision as opposed to a Charter amendment, something that cannot be done by a citizen ballot initiative. 

“On a quantitative and qualitative basis, Measure H does not fundamentally alter the Pasadena City Charter or the basic structure of city government in Pasadena,” Strobel wrote in her ruling. 

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