Apartment Group Says Sacramento City Council May Take Up Rent Control Ordinance

Thursday, June 7, 2018
Ben van der Meer
Sacramento Business Journal

Sacramento’s escalating rents could result in the City Council enacting a rent control ordinance, possibly to head off a rent control ballot measure that could appear before voters in November.

The California Apartment Association posted an item on its website this week saying Mayor Darrell Steinberg would introduce such an ordinance for a vote as soon as next Tuesday’s City Council meeting, or at the meeting on June 19.

“The California Apartment Association has not been included in the drafting of the ordinance," the posting on the association's website states. "Moreover, negotiations over the ordinance proceeded without any involvement from CAA, which has refused to support any form of rent control.”

But Mary Lynne Vellinga, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office, said no such ordinance is pending. The mayor’s office has been involved in discussions with various parties about rising city rents, however, she said.

Steinberg "wants to have a discussion,” Vellinga said. “He wants to increase the housing supply, and he wants to protect tenants against unreasonable rent increases.”

Vellinga said the mayor hopes to broker a compromise between housing activists and landlords toward those ends.

CAA’s posting gave no details on how a city rent control ordinance would work, but said the group would oppose both it and the potential November ballot measure. The posting also encouraged apartment owners to contact Steinberg and other council members to express their opposition.

When asked about the posting and its details, a CAA spokesman referred inquiries to Citizens for Affordable Housing, a group opposing local rent control. CAA did not share the source of its details on the measure.

“Sacramentans agree that we have a serious housing problem, but whether it’s through a ballot initiative or city council vote, rent control will only make the problem worse,” said a statement issued by Bob Magnuson, a spokesman for Citizens for Affordable Housing. “Rent control should be rejected and we all should get to work on real solutions that will make housing more affordable, easier to find, and better for homeowners and renters alike.”

In recent years, national firms tracking apartment trends have identified the Sacramento region as at or near the top for percentage increases in rent growth in the U.S. Relatively little new housing supply, and an influx of affluent Bay Area transplants, are among the reasons cited for the increases. Many also point to investors who’ve bought apartment properties at relatively low prices and then raised rents after making property improvements.

Local housing activists are collecting signatures to put a rent control measure before voters in the city of Sacramento in November. The measure would tie annual increases to changes in the consumer price index, and limit the circumstances under which someone could be evicted. A nine-member board, with eight members elected, would hear landlord-tenant disputes.

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