Glendale Tenants Union Vows to Keep Fighting for Rent Control While Pasadena Counterpart Gets Up to Speed

Thursday, October 19, 2017
Andre Coleman
Pasadena Weekly

Glendale affordable housing advocates have been forced to start over on a ballot initiative which would have forced limits on rent increases throughout the city,

After turning in 11,000 signatures to the Glendale City Council on Oct. 3, the Glendale Tenants Union learned on Oct. 11 that the City Clerk had rejected their petition because it did not comply with state election laws.

Rental rates in Glendale and Pasadena are among the highest in the region. In Glendale, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment has increased over the past year by 10 percent, from $2,000 to $2,200, according to a tenant advocates. In Pasadena, where a similar tenant revolt is gaining momentum, the cost of some one-bedroom apartments is also $2,200.

On Saturday, the Pasadena Tenants Union screened “Citizen Jane” at Throop Unitarian Universalist Church. The documentary focuses on Jane Jacobs, who opposed a developer’s plans in the 1960s to raze much of lower Manhattan to make way for a highway.

That group will meet again at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at Throop Church, 300 S. Los Robles Blvd., Pasadena, to discuss how best to organize renters.

The Glendale initiative would have allowed property owners one annual rent increase of no more than three percent and mandated the creation of a rental review board to hear tenant complaints.

City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian deemed the petition “deficient and invalid.”

According to Kassakhian, the text of the ballot measure did not contain the ballot title and summary of the city attorney.

The text of the measure is also not included anywhere in the petition, which is a violation of California Election Code, Kassakhian said. The petition also did not include a declaration by the author.

To make matters worse, a number of sections of the document submitted for review had pages pasted and glued on top of other pages. In addition, sections which had been whited out were filled in again.

“These acts raise questions about the voter’s intent and the contents of the petition presented to each person who agreed to sign,” Kassakhian said in a prepared statement posted at the city’s website.

The Glendale ballot measure is modeled on the rent control ordinance in West Hollywood, one of a handful of cities in Los Angeles County — among them Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and neighborhoods in Los Angeles — that have rent control.

A spokesperson for the Glendale Tenants Union said they would consult with an attorney and start from scratch on the initiative.

“We turned in 11,000 signatures two weeks ago,” said Mike Van Gorter, an organizer with the Glendale Tenants Union.

“When we were going door to door, people would stop what they were doing and get their neighbors and even knock on doors and tell people to sign it. People are really interested.”

In August, the city introduced a “right to lease” ordinance which requires Glendale landlords to offer a one-year lease to all tenants renting in buildings with five units or more.

The Glendale Tenants Union, however, called the ordinance unenforceable and “toothless.”.

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