News and Views
Saying it needed more time for consideration, Santa Monica’s Rent Control Board Thursday tabled a motion calling for a measure on the November ballot to expand local rent control. The motion asked the board to recommend a City measure for next fall’s election to expand rent control to apartment buildings that have seen many rents soar after the passage of the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act and, potentially, to others not covered by rent control. A “yes” vote would have sent the final decision to the City Council.
The steps up to Sarah Johnson’s apartment are decorated with sand dollars that she collects, often on walks with her grandson. Inside, light streams into her living room, which she likes, because it makes her feel almost like she’s outside.
When Sarah Johnson decided last year to leave behind a career at San Francisco State University that spanned three decades, she did not think that her retirement would come at the cost of her home. Four years ago, Johnson moved into a one-bedroom apartment in University Park South, which contains 145 SF State-owned apartments located across the street from the main campus at 1900 Holloway Ave. Of those units, 51 that are set aside specifically for faculty and staff. Johnson hoped this would be the last move that she would have to make.
March 23, 2018
After hearing from anxious landlords and tenants, Santa Monica’s Rent Control Board on Thursday asked staff to explore if -- and by how much -- both can share the rising costs of surcharges property owners now pass through to renters. The board ordered more analysis on the possibility of instituting a cap on the total in surcharges the renters can absorb, based, for example, on total rent paid. These surcharges rise in buildings that are reassessed when they sell.
The Pasadena Tenants Union (PTU) was scheduled to host a meeting this week on the local rent control movement. Fifty-seven percent of Pasadena residents are renters, according to the PTU, and 42.9 percent are homeowners. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Pasadena has risen more than 51.7 percent in the past six years, with rents on some one bedroom apartments totaling as much as $2,200.
In 2017, with virtually no fanfare, the appellate division of the Los Angeles County Superior Court wiped out a critical piece of West Hollywood’s rent stabilization ordinance. The provision allowed tenants to get reimbursed for attorney fees when victorious in standing up for their rights during eviction proceedings. Because of this provision, tenants in West Hollywood were more likely to have a lawyer with them and, consequently, were some of the least likely tenants in California to be evicted and become homeless.
Faced with the mounting possibility that a rent control ordinance could get the required amount of signatures to qualify for the ballot this November the Long Beach City Council is taking proactive measures to address questions that surround the proposed policy.
March 21, 2018
The Board of Directors of Pasadenans Organizing for Progress voted unanimously Tuesday to fully endorse the Pasadena Tenants Union initiative campaign to amend the Pasadena City Charter to establish rent control. The Amendment would also establish a Rental Housing Board and establish just cause eviction criteria according to which tenants may be evicted.
March 21, 2018
Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker said Tuesday that she and Centro Legal de la Raza have filed suit against a landlord who they allege attempted to illegally increase his tenant's rent by pretending he had moved into the downstairs unit of a duplex. Parker said such schemes have become common as Oakland's housing crisis persists, with some landlords using sham "owner move-ins" as a tactic to evade Oakland's just cause for eviction and rent control laws.
Pasadena Tenants Union Hosts Public Rent Control Forum, Ramps Up Signature Collection Effort for Ballot Initiative
March 21, 2018
“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.
A City Council request for answers about how rent control could impact Long Beach and its government brought both sides of the issue out to state their cases Tuesday night. Fourth District Councilman Daryl Supernaw brought the matter to the council, saying the city needs answers before a petition drive puts rent control on the ballot. The move was in response to a petition drive organized by Housing Long Beach. The proposition, which is in the signature-gathering stage, would impose rent control citywide.
March 21, 2018
A San Diego group is calling for the city to take emergency action to help control the ever-rising cost to rent. San Diego Tenants United plans to speak to the Smart Growth and Land Use Committee during public comment Tuesday. The tenant group will ask the committee to invoke a government code that would slow the rate of rent increase. The group says San Diego policymakers have made it easier to build housing over the last year and now it’s time to start protecting renters.
March 21, 2018
One day after Orange County supervisors voted to spend more than $70 million to house the homeless, residents in three prosperous cities expressed alarm about a proposal to set up "camp" shelters in their communities. Besides creating permanent housing, the officials' plans call for possible camps in Irvine, Laguna Niguel and Huntington Beach on county-owned land. The Irvine City Council voted unanimously late Tuesday to sue the county to stop the proposal.
March 21, 2018
"I was surprised by the lack of empathy,” Carrie Merino said. “I would say, ‘I’m a single mom with three kids and I have a job so I can pay the rent. I just don’t have three times the amount of income you require to qualify.’ ”
March 21, 2018
The Wisconsin Legislature has passed a Republican bill to protect landlords. The Senate passed the measure 18-14 Tuesday. It allows local governments to inspect rental properties only in blighted areas with numerous complaints, decreasing values or increases in single-family home conversions to rental units. If an inspection doesn't reveal a violation or the violation is fixed within a month inspectors couldn't return to the property for five years. Inspection fees would be waived in either case.
The Seattle City Council voted Monday to impose a one-year moratorium on rent-bidding platforms, which allow landlords to take competing bids from prospective tenants and then sign leases with the highest bidders — a little bit like eBay, but for apartments. The council began looking at the platforms after the board of directors of the Associated Students of the University of Washington approved a student-senate resolution calling on the city to ban them.
March 20, 2018
Over the last 15 years, criminal activity nuisance ordinances (CANOs) have proliferated throughout the country. CANOs are local laws that penalize property owners if there are repeated incidents of criminal activity on or near their property over a set period of time.
March 15, 2018
A real estate analytics firm has some good news for Bay Area landlords — and bad news for tenants: Rents began rising again last year after a brief “cooling off period” in late 2016. “The Bay Area region should register one of its best rent performances since at least mid-2016,” the Texas real estate analytics firm RealPage wrote in a new report for the real estate industry.
The battle over rent control in the state and in Sacramento is heating up. A local housing coalition is pushing for rent control and just cause in the city, while five industry groups have announced opposition to the measure. There's also a campaign across the state to repeal a decades-old law that limits where local governments can enact rent control. Volunteers are already collecting signatures to get a rent control related initiative on the California ballot in November.
March 13, 2018
California’s newest housing law is about to be tested. Last week, developer West Berkeley Investments (a subsidiary of Blake Griggs) cited SB 35 when filing its application for a controversial project that’s been tied up in zoning and environmental review for the last half-decade. The law allows the developer to bypass local oversight in exchange for making 50 percent of the units affordable, Berkeleyside reports. It’s the first to cite the law since it was enacted in January, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.