LocationAlhambra , CA United States
The Alhambra City Council on Tuesday directed city staff to draft an urgency ordinance that would allow tenants rights protections to apply to Alhambra residents before a state law goes into effect next year.
The Council action came at a special meeting Tuesday morning that was called by Mayor Adele Andrade-Stadler last Wednesday in response to reports that residents in Alhambra were facing rent spikes as a result of AB 1482, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed on Oct. 8. That measure prohibits no-fault evictions and limits rent increases to five percent plus the normal rate of inflation, usually around three percent, starting Jan. 1. If the urgency ordinance passes, those protections would take effect immediately in Alhambra.
Amid reports that landlords have used this window to increase rents or evict their tenants, cities including Los Angeles and Pasadena have passed ordinances extending protections to the present day, and to even have AB 1482 apply retroactively. The City Council held this special meeting to determine whether to pass an ordinance similar to those cities.
As of now, Alhambra landlords can raise rents without restriction, and can also evict without cause with a 30 or 60-day notice.
Almost 40 people attended this special Council meeting, with most of those who attended being Alhambra residents saying they have experienced major rent increases or 60-day eviction notices around the time AB 1482 was passed or under consideration.
One resident, Andrea Theodore, said that after her building at 3 N. Primrose Avenue was sold in August, she and her neighbors received a $200 rental increase. When they complained to the landlord, they were served with 60-day eviction notices and will have to move out by Nov. 15. She asked that the City Council pass a moratorium on rental increases and no-fault evictions. “It’s a pattern of predatory rent increases and just [economically] unjust property owners just thinking of the profits — putting profits before people,” she said.
Representatives from legal clinics and from the United Way’s “Everyone In” campaign, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s “Housing is a Human Right” division, and the Pasadena Tenants Union also spoke in support of an ordinance, noting how this loophole in AB 1482 could lead to more homelessness. Pasadena’s ordinance, which extends a moratorium on no-fault evictions like failure to pay rent or having to move in family members, passed at midnight on Tuesday. Pasadena also rolled back rent increases above the ceiling AB 1482 allows retroactive to March 15 for those still in the eviction process.
Susan Lin, a Housing Rights Center outreach coordinator who staffs the walk-in clinic for Alhambra landlords and tenants at the Alhambra Civic Center Library, said that she has seen the number of people asking for help increase because they are getting evicted, or landlords are harassing them after AB 1482 passed.
“I really urge the city to pass some type of protection for these tenants to protect the most vulnerable residents in Alhambra,” she said.
A few people spoke against extending AB 1482’s protections, saying that landlords would just find ways to get around the new restrictions, and that property owners have a right to get a return on renting out their property as well.
“By making stricter laws, or doing more, you’re going to see by default that income property owners are going to continue to find ways to get out of it,” said Alhambra resident and Planning Commission Vice President Suzi Dunkel-Soto.
After hearing the overwhelming majority of public commenters speak in favor of this urgency measure, all four City Council members present said that they sympathize with those who have undergone large rent increases and have been served with eviction notices after the passage of AB 1482. Council member Katherine Lee, who has just returned from a leave of absence, said that it concerned her how many people are becoming homeless or having to move far away from their jobs and families, and that something needs to be done to prevent these unintended consequences of AB 1482 not taking effect until Jan. 1.
Councilmembers Ross Maza and Jeff Maloney said they were also concerned about this unintended result of the law, but they needed to balance those concerns by also protecting property owners’ rights. Maloney suggested that city staff research how many residents were experiencing hardships because of the gap between AB 1482’s passage and when it goes into effect, including how many people were experiencing rent increases versus no-cause evictions or both. Staff could then write an ordinance that would address the gap between AB 1482’s passage and the date it takes effect.
Andrade-Stadler said she agreed that a data-driven approach is best, but that given how soon the law goes into effect, she believed that the amount of data that the city could gather in a short amount of time would be limited. Lee also expressed concern that waiting for more data would not allow the Council to act fast enough.
Councilmember David Mejia was not present for the special meeting. Maza read a statement from him at the start of the meeting, saying how important this issue is to him, and expressing his regret that he could not attend due to prior work obligations.
Rachel Richman of Burke, Williams & Sorensen, filling in for Alhambra City Attorney Joseph Montes, said that many cities who are adopting moratoriums were basically extending AB 1482’s protections to before Jan. 1. If the City Council wanted to consider something by the next meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday due to Monday’s Veteran’s Day holiday, there would be very limited time for staff to gather the necessary data on rent increases and evictions.
Maza said that his preference would be for the urgency ordinance to adopt the AB 1482 language on a local level, but not to contain stronger language than what is in the law. This is the ordinance that the Council members voted unanimously to consider next Tuesday.
Maloney made a motion for the City Council to consider an urgency ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting and urged staff to consult with as many stakeholders as possible, including local tenant non-profit groups like the Housing Rights Center, to get their input and voices into the staff report before the meeting.