he petition filed at the beginning of this month to introduce a form of rent stabilization in the city of Glendale hit an administrative setback last week as the city clerk’s office deemed the filing of more than 11,000 signatures invalid due to compliance issues with state election codes.
John Bagdzhyan, who filed the signatures on Oct. 2 and addressed City Council the following day, intended to initiate a rent control ordinance in Glendale modeled after one in Los Angeles. It asked the city of Glendale to cap rent increases at 3% a year, allow only annual hikes and form a city mediation board to address landlord/tenant disputes.
According to a statement by the Glendale City Clerk’s Office, the filing omitted a number of required portions required by the state.
These included the absence of the text of the measure on the petition and declaration of the circulator. There was also an issue with submitted pages containing signatures whited-out as well as cut off and pasted to other pages.
“Our office has carried out its ministerial duty in ascertaining whether the procedural requirements imposed by the legislature and the State of California were satisfied by this process, and, in this case, they were not,” said Ardy Kassakhian, Glendale City Clerk, in a statement. “The citizens who initiated this petition certainly have the right to try again and must comply with all requirements of the [California] Elections Code when they do.”
Although advocated vigorously by the recently organized Glendale Tenants Union, the petition was written and began circulation for signatures three months prior to the union’s formation in June.
Mike Van Gorder, a captain with the union, said he blames the rejection on “rookie mistakes” because Bagdzhyan drafted the petition having no legal experience or aid. However, Van Gorder said it’s a mere bump in the road.
“Had any lawyer been involved in crafting the documents, someone would have caught it,” Van Gorder said. “We’re not taking this as a loss. We got more signatures than any one City Council member got votes in the last election. We’ll work on fixing where we failed and try again.”
He added that he would like to see council members take it upon themselves to introduce a similar form of rent control given the large number of resident signatures collected.
“Many of us are disappointed, but we are trying to let all in the union know that this is a long-haul kind of thing, and we’re not hinging ourselves to any one success or failure of one campaign,” Van Gorder said.
The next meeting of the Glendale Tenants Union, where the future of the petition will be discussed, is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Nov. 13 at the First Baptist Church of Glendale, 209 N. Louise St.