https://www.pasadenaweekly.com/2019/08/01/tenants-and-homeowners-agree-pasadena-needs-rent-control/; Pasadena Weekly, Posted by Peter Dreier | Aug 1, 2019
Tenant Claims Landlord Denying Tenant Protection Funds
Published : Tuesday, July 23, 2019 | 5:23 AM
A member of the Washington 16, a group of tenants being displaced a mass eviction of an apartment building in the 200 block of Washington Boulevard which recently changed ownership, told the City Council on Monday that the owners were blocking tenants from receiving benefits from Pasadena’s Tenant Protection Ordinance.
According to the Ordinance, property owners will be required to provide relocation funds and moving expenses to income-qualified tenants in good standing if the tenancies are terminated within 18 months of the date the property is transferred.
“We stood before you with others from the Washington 16,” said resident PJ Johnson. “The Council is allowing community to be broke up with no [regard] for the community. Not without great difficulties, I reached out to Mr. Huang. What I am saying is it has no teeth at all. You’ve asked us to go hat in hands to owners to ask us for what we are qualified for. It cannot work where the Director of Housing qualified us and owners disqualifies us.”
According to City Manager Steve Mermell, eligible households have reached $8,500 on average under the ordinance.
Rents in Pasadena are among the highest in the state. Some one-bedroom apartments in Pasadena cost over $2,100 a month. State laws allow landlords to increase the rent as much as they want.
The ordinance requires landlords to pay relocation benefits to displaced tenants if the building is demolished, converted to condominiums, or permanently removed from the rental market. Landlords can also be forced to pay if they evict tenants so they or their family members can take occupancy of the unit. Tenants forced to move under orders by the government to vacate and tenants evicted from housing owned by educational institutions under certain situations.
Multifamily rental properties with at least two units on a single parcel are subject to the ordinance. Single-family homes and condominium units are exempt.
To be eligible for relocation benefits, tenants must be in good standing, with incomes not exceeding 140 percent of the Los Angeles County area median income.
According to Pasadenans Organizing for Progress (POP), a poll conducted by David Binder Research revealed that 69 percent of local voters support rent control and 82 percent support a law that would block evictions without a valid reason.
The poll also found high support for rent control in all seven Council districts.
Johnson said the Los Robles 10, another group being displaced, has no idea when they will get funds under the ordinance.
“We appreciate the action the Huang took, but you told us to do a certain thing and then you allowed the owner to supersede that. You cannot have a slippery slope with the TPO. We need rent control.”
By Alex Cordero
Affordable housing continues to be a big issue in the City of Roses and with the upcoming election of government officials local organizations are informing local residents of what is at risk when it comes to rent control and affordable housing and urge local Pasadenans to vote wisely.
The Pasadena Tenants Union (PTU) regularly brings local residents together to raise awareness of the current affordable housing crisis in the Crown City. This organization recently organized a panel discussion on targeting issues like rent control and eviction protections for Pasadena residents. Panelists included Denny Zane, the founder and executive director of Move LA and also a founding member of Santa Monica’s for Renters’ Rights, who played a big role in passing rent control and just cause policies in the City of Santa Monica.
69% OF PASADENA VOTERS SUPPORT RENT CONTROL – 82% SUPPORT BLOCKING LANDLORDS FROM EVICTING TENANTS WITHOUT A VALID REASON
Pasadenans Organizing for Progress (POP) Board of Directors has voted unanimously to support and endorse Pasadena Tenants Justice Coalition’s (PTJC) campaign to put a Rent Control / Just Cause Eviction measure on the November 2020 ballot. The PTJC announced its campaign at the Pasadena City Council Meeting, Monday, May 20.
“Rent control is an effective tool to stabilize and bring affordability back to rental housing” said Ed Washatka, Chair of POP’s Housing Justice Committee. “The struggle for affordable housing is at crisis proportions in Pasadena. Some tenants are only a rent increase away from becoming homeless,” he added.
A survey of 700 registered voters revealed that 69% of Pasadena voters want the Pasadena City Council to adopt a rent control law that would put an annual limit on the amount a landlord can raise the rent.
An even larger number of voters – 82% - support a law to prevent landlords from evicting tenants without a just cause, such as not paying rent, destruction of property, or exhibiting loud or violent behavior.
The survey results were part of a poll conducted by David Binder Research on behalf of POP’s to learn voter opinion on local rent control and “just cause” eviction laws.
Even though the Mayor and Council members have gone on record repeatedly against rent control and just cause, registered voters are saying emphatically they want laws passed that protect renters against skyrocketing rent increases and unjust evictions.
“The survey results show the political establishment is out of touch with the reality of ever rising housing costs and unjust evictions for immigrant and working class families and families of color, said Pablo Alvarado, POP board member and Executive Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
“I hope,” Avarado continued, “that our political leaders engage in a constructive and honest dialogue to bring justice to the housing market in our city. POP will work in solidarity with the Pasadena Tenants Justice Coalition to ensure that there are protections in place for all renters in our city.”
“The support for rent control and just cause is extremely favorable throughout the city, in every council district and is strong across all demographics of age, gender, home ownership, or renter,” said Kim Douglas,.
“This recent survey demonstrates,” stated Douglas, POP Co-chair, “a strong upward trend in support for rent control and just cause eviction laws all demographic groups including age, race, home ownership, renter, and political party,” said Kim Douglas.
For example, 78% of 18-38 year olds, 68% of 39-54 year olds, 61% of 55-73 year olds, and 62% of voters over 74 support rent control. It also found strong support among white (65%), Latino (78%), Asian (74%) and Black (76%) voters.
The poll asked voters their political party identification and discovered that 78% of Democrats, 73% of those with no party preference, and 37% of Republicans support rent control. More than half (55%) of homeowners and 81% of renters embrace rent control.
The poll found even stronger support for a local just cause eviction law among all demographic groups, including 86% of 18-38 year olds, 79% of 39-54 year olds, 82% of 55-73 year olds, and 76% of voters over 74; and 79% among whites, 88% among Latinos, 86% among Asians, and 79% among Black voters.
In terms of political party, 84% of Democrats, 88% of independents (“no party preference”), and 68% of Republicans support a just cause eviction policy. Almost three-quarters of homeowners (74%), and 88% of renters want the City Council to adopt a just cause law.
Language in the PTJC initiative will provide for yearly rent increases based on rises in the Consumer Price Index or CPI. Landlords will also be able to recover the costs of capital improvements.
The scientific telephone survey, with an error rate of +/- 3.7%, was conducted by David Binder Research in February. The survey included questions of rent control and just cause eviction as well as about voters views about raising Pasadena’s municipal minimum wage to $15 by 2020.
After that survey showed 82% of Pasadena voters supported increasing the minimum wage, the City Council voted 7-1 in favor of continuing to raise the minimum wage to $15 on July 1, 2020. POP had organized the community in support of the minimum wage and protections against wage theft for the past several years.
“Research shows that students do better in school if their families have stable housing,” said Juliana Serrano, a member of POP’s board of directors. “Raising the minimum wage and protecting families from rent gouging and unfair evictions go hand in hand.”
“We want tenants’ voices to be heard. We’re about to launch a major voter registration drive, focusing on tenants, who represent a majority of voters in Pasadena,” explained Kim Douglas, POP co-chair.
“We’re also heartened that so many homeowners recognize the importance of protecting the city’s affordable rental housing so that janitors, nurses, teachers, retail clerks, waiters and waitresses, social workers, and others can live in our city.
“POP is a multi-issue community organization,” Douglas said. “We led the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and we’ve worked with the City Council and Pasadena Police to protect immigrants. We’ve been working on reforms to limit the use of lethal force and racial profiling by Pasadena Police Department. Now POP intends to organize the community to support the PTJC ballot initiative on rent control and just cause eviction."