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Rent Control Organizer Says City Council Right to Take No Stance on Initiative

Published on Wednesday, August 10, 2022 | 11:02 am

Ryan Bell leads members of the Pasadena Tenant Justice Coalition in submitting 15,352 signatures in support of a rent control measure to the Pasadena City Clerk at Pasadena City Hall on March 28, 2022. [Eddie Rivera/Pasadena Now]
A rent control advocate told Pasadena Now that the City Council took the right stance by staying neutral on a rent control initiative.

“The campaign is very happy for the city council’s neutrality,” said Ryan Bell. “It’s the right thing to do. This is a movement that has grown over more than two decades to where we are today with nearly 20,000 petition signers. City Council is wise to stay out of it and let the voters decide.”

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

On Monday the City Council had a chance to vote in favor of supporting, opposing or taking no stance on the matter.

The council voted unanimously in favor of not taking a stance. 

Mayor Victor Gordo recused himself since he is a landlord.

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. A housing board would also be established to implement the regulations. 

Management consulting firm Management Partners, which conducted the analysis of the voter initiative, said overall, their analysis suggests that rent stabilization reduces rent increases compared with market rents; that stronger regulations are better at preventing larger rent increases; and that regulations coupled with complementary housing programs tend to be more effective.

Jay Trevino from Management Partners said the measure’s implementation would cost $5.8 million in its first year. 

The costs would be passed on to landlords. 

Consultants hired by the city answered some council questions, but no one from the pro-rent control side of the discussion was invited to help answer questions.

“It’s deeply disappointing that with so many members of the campaign team available at the meeting last night that no questions were posed directly to those of us who know the answers,” Bell said. “City council and staff were left guessing — often incorrectly — about many issues. A few of those could be corrected during 90 second public comments but the right thing to do would have been to have someone from the campaign available to speak to the charter amendment that we wrote.”

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. A quarter of the city’s tenants are severely rent-burdened, paying over 50% of their income in rent, the Coalition’s statement added.

The charter amendment would also close the “renoviction loophole” and allows tenants to return to their home 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.

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