Affording Housing.. About Rent Control

Over the last couple of years, our community has seen rents increasing precipitously.  While this is not only a Culver City problem, what we saw here was the rumor that there was a movement to bring rent control explode. As we recounted in our blog in February about the conversation that the Council attempted,

The concerns of renters facing daunting rent hikes were overshadowed by the testimony from many members of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles who mounted a campaign raising the fear of rent control.

By February of 2015, this threat was causing rents to increase further, as was reported by KPCC :

Singer told the council that her landlord raised her rent after hearing a rumor the city council was considering rent control. This was the reason that he gave. I don’t want to be stuck in the lower rent, if rent control goes through,” Singer said.

Mr. Singer continued, speaking eloquently about what this means for our community:

Is the ethical value of the people who live here and run this city one that says we need to find a way for a variety of types and income levels and beliefs to be here in our city?” Singer asked. 

We bring attention to this quote because you often hear an answer to this question. Leaders in our community have been heard to say “If people can’t afford to live here, they may have to move to a community where they can afford to live.”

As progressives, we don’t support this approach to housing.

Having said that, to discuss rent control, we must start with a few facts.

  • While many people are familiar with the fact that cities like Los Angeles, Santa Monica, San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland have rent control ordinances in place, it is less well known that other cities like Beverly Hills, Palm Springs and West Hollywood also have them.
  • When California passed the Costa Hawkins Law in 1995, the rules changed for rent control. This law cleared the way for owners in rent control communities to establish initial rental rates when there was a change in occupancy at a dwelling unit – a policy known as vacancy decontrol. It also meant that new rent control ordinances could only apply to properties that were built BEFORE 1995.

What does that mean to Culver City? Does it mean that we should not consider a rent control ordinance for those older properties?

The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles made the point to the Board that there was no reason to consider an ordinance at all.  But they represent landlords, and that’s only one of the constituencies in our community.

Did the Council seek the input of renters? Did they take them into consideration? We know the answer to that question.

We are looking into the needs of renters. Do they know about the Landlord Tenant Mediation Board? Does it work for them? Does it need to be improved? How? What other policies could be put in place to change the current situation?

We’d like to hear the City Council begin this conversation, just as many candidates said was necessary.

We will follow this post with an update when this changes.

 

 

 

 

 

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