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.
Pasadenans Organizing for Progress, a grass-roots community activism group known by its acronym POP!, was formed originally to lead the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. A group spokesperson said it has worked with the City Council and Pasadena Police to protect immigrants and it is now “aggressively engaged in fighting for affordable housing in Pasadena.”
“Rent control is an effective tool to stabilize and bring affordability back to rental housing” said POP’s Housing and Tenant’s Rights Committee Chair Ed Washatka.
“The struggle for affordable housing is at crisis proportions in Pasadena,” he added.
Nicole Marie Hodgson, member of the PTU and one of three proponents who signed the initiative, said that “57.1% of Pasadena residents are renters and yet we have no housing security in the City. Rent control ensures that rent increases are reasonable and occur only once a year while providing landlords with economic security by guaranteeing them fair returns on their investments.”
Language in the initiative provides for the landlord setting the initial rent and yearly increases will be based on increases in the Consumer Price Index or CPI not to exceed 4.5% per year. Landlords will also be able to recover the costs of capital improvements after making a presentation to the Rental Housing Board.
“The argument of letting the markets solve the affordable housing problem is not working when the market keeps getting pegged higher and higher with what seems like each passing month,” Washatka said.
“Expecting the market to cap rents is like expecting a hangman to cut the rope. It just isn’t going to happen. Rent control cuts the rope from around the renters’ necks,” he added.
POP! is also endorsing the statewide campaign to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act, a 1995 state law, adopted at the bidding of the landlord lobby. The current law prohibits cities from adopting strong rent control laws. If Costa-Hawkins is repealed, Pasadena will be able to adopt a rent control law that allows landlords to gradually increase rents each year, while protecting tenants from unfair harassment, unexpected rent hikes, arbitrary evictions, and rent gouging.