Santa Cruz council imposes temporary rent control, just-cause measures

Over the objections of CAA and its members, the Santa Cruz City Council on Tuesday imposed interim emergency rent control and just-cause eviction ordinances, effective immediately.

Although most attendees objected during public testimony, the council voted to instate a temporary 2 percent cap on rent increases for all apartment buildings built before 1995, with exemptions for condos, townhouses and single-family homes. The council also approved a temporary just-cause ordinance that applies to all housing, including single-family homes and accessory-dwelling units. The only exemption to the just-cause ordinance is for those who own only one rental unit. Landlords with maintenance costs that cannot be covered under the 2 percent cap can request an adjustment by contacting City Manager Martin Bernal at

The council’s action comes after tenant activists recently filed an initiative to place rent control and just-cause eviction requirements on the November 2018 ballot. Some council members and tenant activists have said the emergency rent control and just-cause measures are necessary to prevent landlords from imposing unreasonable rent increases and conducting mass evictions before Election Day, an assertion disputed by the California Apartment Association.

Both emergency ordinances approved Tuesday are short-term. If the rent control initiative fails to qualify, both ordinances will sunset in September. If the initiative qualifies but fails to pass, the ordinances will sunset in November.

If the rent control initiative ultimately qualifies and is approved by voters, it would cap rents based on the Consumer Price Index , create an elected rent control board and require six months of rent for relocation, to name a few of the more onerous changes. Tenants activists, who need 8,000 valid signatures to qualify the initiative, are now circulating their petition. The California Apartment Association is working to defeat the proposed ballot measure.

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