Pomona city leaders are preparing to take a measure that could help protect residents amid continued rent increases.
A vote for a rent stabilization ordinance expected on Monday, August 1, at the next meeting of the City Council. As a temporary emergency ordinance, only five of the seven council members need to approve it rent control measure and would take effect immediately.
The ordinance would limit rent increases to no more than 3% above current rates, or 80% of the change in the consumer price index, whichever is less, on an annual basis, according to a report prepared by city staff.
The timing of the ordinance is of the essence for tenants seeking relief from large rent increases. California’s statewide Tenant Protection Act will allow rent increases of up to 10% starting in August.
On Tuesday, July 26, the city held a community study session in preparation for the anticipated council vote next week. During the meeting, council members weighed their options.
One possibility, the council heard, would be to provide some form of legal aid to tenants who have been wrongfully evicted, as proposed by Mayor Tim Sandoval. Giving affected tenants legal representation, Sandoval said, would protect them from “lawless landlords.”
Many public speakers and council members said they heard too often stories about bad landlords wrongfully evicting tenants or illegally raising rents.
With some tenants just getting by, Sandoval acknowledged the financial hardship legal costs would cause a family facing eviction.
“I see this as a decision that comes at a time when people are rent-burdened like never before,” Sandoval said. Having people “with a stable situation is better for all of Pomona.”
To support such costs, the city would benefit from the $45 million it received from America’s Rescue Plan, a federal coronavirus relief program. The program will qualify as an appropriate use of funds, but will still need to be budgeted, City Manager James Makshanoff said Tuesday.
Another dilemma raised by council members is the city’s ability to enforce such an ordinance. The city already has a rent control ordinance for mobile homes, but some public speakers said landlords aren’t following it.
To have better enforcement, Makshanoff said the city would need to add more staff and identify new revenue streams to support such efforts. However, he said no plan exists.
Those details are expected to be worked out by the time city staff comes back with a permanent ordinance and a plan to implement it, according to the report.
The rent stabilization discussion has been highly anticipated by residents who have seen rents rise significantly in Pomona over the past few years. Many spoke Tuesday of the harsh reality of rising housing costs.
“If my rent goes up, I’m going to be homeless,” said resident Raul Pulido, who said he lives in a small trailer. “We just see the rent go up and up … I don’t know what to do.”
“Nearly 17,000 Pomona households have incomes that are less than 80% of the area median income” of $62,407, according to a staff report. Of the city’s 18,648 renter households, 61% use a third or more of their gross income on housing costs, a 2020 study by the Southern California Association of Governments showed.
That could include some families in the Pomona Unified School District, said interim deputy superintendent Darren Knowles, who spoke at the meeting as an educator. He encouraged the City Council to consider the nearly 3,000 PUSD students who are homeless when making their decision.
Knowles noted that many are “living in motels, hotels and may be moving,” from the rising cost of living in Pomona.
But not everyone at the meeting agreed that the rent ordinance is warranted. Some landlords said Tuesday they should be able to recoup lost costs during the pandemic by charging a fair market rate for rents.
Council member Nora Garcia responded that not taking action to slow rent increases would result in more evictions and make housing in Pomona out of reach for more people.
“When we talk about (rent control), we have to understand that there are people on the other side of this,” Garcia said. “People are just trying to make ends meet to stay in their home.”
If the council approves the rent stabilization ordinance on Monday, Pomona will join other cities such as Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Oakland that have adopted similar policies.
Pomona set to vote on rent control ordinance Monday – Daily Bulletin Source link Pomona set to vote on rent control ordinance Monday – Daily Bulletin