Two years ago, City Limits wrote about an affordable housing preservation deal under Mayor Bloomberg that tenants and advocates say was disastrous and non-transparent, leading to skyrocketing rents and evictions for many tenants. Those tenants, with the support of Legal Services Corporation A and the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, have now filed a class-action federal lawsuit against the owner as well as the federal and city agencies who signed off on the deal.
“Rent control is a moral, ethical, and human issue,” said tenant organizer Walter Senterfitt Tuesday evening, in laying out his position at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California Pasadena/Foothills Chapter Forum on rent control.
Continued Senterfitt, “Rent control is a human right,” as he laid out a brief history of rent control in Southern California. Senterfitt was joined at the speakers table by Allison Henry of the Pasadena Tenants Union and attorney Frank Broccolo.
Nancy Buttanda, 68, has watched in horror as her rent check eats up more and more of her fixed income. The rent on her apartment in Federal Way, Wash., has increased annually at least $100 a month for three or four years, she says, and her landlord rarely makes repairs. She now pays $1,245 a month for rent, water and trash, while living on pension, Social Security and disability payments that amount to around $3,300.
The campaign to collect signatures for a potential rent control vote in November officially started this weekend with a kickoff event at MacArthur Park but it didn’t take long for opponents and supporters to clash and now both sides are claiming to be the victim.
The rent control ballot initiative is being headed by a coalition of community groups including Housing Long Beach, a tenants rights group that for years has fought to bring stronger renters protections to a city that has about 60 percent of its residents paying rent.
The Glendale Tenants Union submitted a proposed rent stabilization ordinance on Tuesday to the city of Glendale, which began the formal process of placing the initiative before voters on the November 2018 ballot, according to a statement released by the organization.
The city now has 15 days to respond with an official summary, where the union must then collect 10,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Written as the "Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act," this is the organization's second attempt to introduce rent control in the city since forming last year.
SANTA CRUZ >> Advocates for rent control and just cause for eviction turned in the text of a proposed ballot initiative Friday to the Santa Cruz City Clerk.
Jeffrey Smedberg, retired county recycling coordinator, delivered the proposed Rent Control and Tenant Protection Act to interim City Clerk Bonnie Bush.
He was accompanied by Thao Le, a senior sociology major at UC Santa Cruz active in the Movement for Housing Justice, which is behind the ballot initiative.
Organizers with San Diego Tenants United say the time for rent control in San Diego is now and that too many people are being displaced by rising rent costs.
They've gathered over 8,000 signatures on a change.org petition to implement rent control in the city.
"People are getting priced out of their homes, they're getting displaced, to the degree where you're seeing mass displacement," said organizer Rafael Bautista. "We're making homeless people by not creating rent control in San Diego."
San Diegans are rallying behind rent control. On Sunday, the group San Diego Tenants United held a march in Point Loma advocating for affordable rent and against "slumlords." Organizers say tenants of The Village Apartments have been asking management to make changes for months about several problems including cockroaches in units and harassment by a maintenance manager. San Diego Tenants United offers free information sessions about renters' rights in both English and Spanish.
Dozens of renters gathered in Vancouver on Sunday to voice their concerns and find strategies for more secure and affordable housing.
They were at the first annual convention for the Vancouver Tenants Union at the Russian Hall.
The union launched in April with the hope of signing up thousands of members to be a collective voice for residents facing eviction and unfair rent increases.
"We sort of came together to launch the Tenants Union with a few demands," said organizer Kell Gerlings.
After rent stabilization measures received mixed results around the Bay Area in the last election, voters in Pacifica will have their turn on Tuesday.
Volunteers who have been campaigning since the summer hope to convince homeowners, a group that makes up the majority of the city’s population, to vote for Measure C, which would limit how much landlords could raise rents.
Gloria Stofan, a resident since 1966, volunteers with Fair Rents 4 Pacifica. She said that, after speaking to four people, two said they’d vote no on Measure C, one said yes and one was undecided.