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Alhambra City Council to Vote on Urgency Measure to Cover Gap in New Statewide Rent Protection

Alhambra residents report experiencing rent increases and eviction notices before a new state law with more tenant protections goes into effect on Jan. 1. Photo by Bud Taylor.

Location

Alhambra , 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.

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4 thoughts on “Alhambra City Council to Vote on Urgency Measure to Cover Gap in New Statewide Rent Protection”

  1. I really wish i knew about this emergency meeting because my mother was just given a 60 day notice. On October 21 2019 my mother who lives at 1600 huntington dr was given a 60 day notice. She has lived at that address for over 20 years! The notice didnt include any reasoning and to this day nobody from the managment company which is based in Pasadena Beven & Brock has contacted her regarding why she was given this notice. She is on social security and works a limited work schedule after suffering a mild stroke in march! She came home to find the notice stuck on her door on her birthday telling her she must be out by december 22nd 3 days before christmas. For 20 years my mother has lived there. Before beven and brock even managed the building she was living there and this is how they treat people. They simply couldnt raise her rent fast enough so they evict her! Theyve raised her rent $200 over the last and a half now this 60 day notice. She doesnt know what to do….this is criminal! After 20 years a loyal resident who paid rent on time and even worked as a manager of the building for 10 years can be kicked to the curb by these two faced money hungry managment companies. She was in the hospital this year in march when she suffered a stroke and the last thi g she neededwas the stress from this nonsense. I will be at next tuesdays meeting! This isnt right! Beven and Brock are thebiggest scumbag company out there and they need to be held accountable. Charlie Beven is a two faced little rat that cant even face anyone but rather scampers around slipping 60 day notices onto 20 year renters doors knowing theyre not home and cant even send a messege or explanation as to why. Plays mind games with messeges to residents asking questions only to evict people who have done nothing. 20 years and all you get is a piece of paper saying leave! On her birthday! Scumbag! I wont let this go i promise. I will bethere tuesday!

  2. Melissa Michelson

    Here’s a petition to sign: https://www.change.org/p/alhambra-city-council-protect-renter-s-rights-in-alhambra?cs_tk=Al71Q-3BzrYzBOCZx10AAXicyyvNyQEABF8BvIIOcVL7obU5nhrrGiIZrFw%3D&utm_campaign=56eaf4f725dd498e9083598e08c6ad6e&utm_medium=email&utm_source=petition_signer_receipt&utm_term=cs

  3. Melissa Michelson

    It’s shameful to hear, especially given all these other cities are springing to action to protect its residents , but ours is just worried about protecting price gougers and their right to be greedy. Once they accept $ from business interests they will ALWAYS play politics and use mealy-mouth tactics to appease both sides. It’s time for Maloney to go – Nov 2020 can’t come too soon! – and anyone else up there who is not for the people.

  4. I must say, it was startling to hear Councilman Maloney lobby for the real estate industry up on the dais amidst the heartwrenching stories of evicted Alhambra residents at Tuesday’s meeting. It felt like Maloney was trying to have it both ways: appease tenants by being able to say he passed something, but also appease his real estate and developer campaign donors by being able to go back and tell them that he was able to water down the moratorium so much that it is essentially pointless. Time to “you know what” or get off the pot Councilman Maloney. Say what you mean and own it. Councilman Maza was not much better. Thank you, Mayor Andrade-Stadler and Councilwoman Lee, for having a heart and speaking sense. FYI: a moratorium will not affect the vast majority of good landlords in the City, only the price gougers who are displacing households.