Campaign website launches to fight rent control measure in National City

CAA members wanting to prevent rent control from taking hold in San Diego County are urged to visit a new website — ProtectOurHousing.com.

The website comes from National City Residents for Fair & Equitable Housing, the campaign fighting the rent control initiative on National City’s Nov. 6 ballot. The California Apartment Association spearheaded the creation of the campaign.

“Measure W is a poorly written ballot measure that jeopardizes the future of National City, the website says. “The flawed Measure W will reduce the number of available rental units in National City and result in the deterioration of the homes that remain. We need to maintain and improve the quality of life in National City, not destroy it.”

Whitney Benzian, CAA’s vice president of public affairs in the San Diego region, urged members to visit ProtectOurHousing.com and join the mounting opposition to Measure W.

“We have the support of Mayor Morrison and many prominent community leaders because they understand this measure will stop all the progress National City has been making the last few years,” Benzian said.

The No on W site includes 10 reasons why voters should reject Measure W, invites visitors to join the No on W campaign and offers a portal for making financial contributions.

In early July, the San Diego County Registrar of Voters confirmed that the National City Rent Control and Community Stabilization Ordinance. had qualified for November’s ballot. The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment had directed the signature-gathering effort to qualify the initiative.

If approved by voters, the ballot measure will create a rent board funded by annual landlord fees, cap annual rent increases based on the rate of inflation and impose “just cause” eviction policies.

“Measure W makes it very difficult to evict problem tenants,” the website against Measure W says. “Those who put the safety of their neighbors at-risk by dealing drugs or engaging in other dangerous activities will be safeguarded from evictions, degrading neighborhood quality of life.”

Rent control threat surfaces at Glendale City Hall

Glendale’s mayor and some council members have expressed interest in pursuing a rent control ordinance and have directed city staffers to draft a report on the policy.

The direction comes as the Glendale Tenants Union applies intense pressure on the council to cap city rents. The union shifted its attention to City Hall after twice failing to place a rent control initiative before voters.

It also follows a shift of opinion on the council. This week, Mayor Zareh Sinanyan, who previously voiced opposition to rent control, changed his position, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“What prompted it is just the dire nature of the situation,” Sinanyan said, as reported by the Times. “Rents are out of control, going up, and there appears to be no let-up in the rate at which they’re growing.”

The California Apartment Association, which contends that rent control is a failed policy that would exacerbate the regional housing shortage, is mobilizing its members to help stop any such rent control ordinance from coming to Glendale.

The council also appears to be taking a page from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, which voted last month to draft a temporary rent control ordinance for unincorporated areas of the county. That ordinance will cap maximum annual rent increases at 3 percent for qualifying units. CAA and its allies continue to oppose this rent control proposal and is assessing its options.

At Tuesday’s Glendale City Council meeting, Councilman Vrej Agajanian referenced the county’s move, saying he wonders why the city couldn’t cap rents at 5 percent, the Times reported. Mayor Pro-tem Paula Devine also has said she wants to monitor the effects of the county ordinance.

Efforts to bring rent control to Glendale stretch back to last year.

In October 2017, rent control proponents submitted more than 11,000 signatures to qualify a rent control measure for the city ballot, but the clerk rejected the petition, citing a number of problems. This year, the Tenants Union began collecting signatures to place rent control on the Nov. 6 ballot but missed the deadline. The union, however, kept circulating its petition in hopes of meeting an Aug. 6 cutoff to make the 2020 ballot. Proponents gathered less than half of the required signatures.

The union then indicated it would urge the Glendale City Council to adopt rent control. If that doesn’t work, the union may circulate another rent control petition, again eying the 2020 election or a special election.

If you are interested in helping stop rent control in Glendale or other parts of Los Angeles County, contact Beverly Kenworthy, CAA LA vice president of public affairs, at bkenworthy@caanet.org.