I have been committed to the production and retention of affordable housing for my entire career. I also have served as Pasadena Planning Director, Planning Commissioner, City Councilmember, and Mayor thereby gaining expertise in Pasadena housing issues.
By Terry Tornek
While rents in Pasadena and the region have skyrocketed, and the City has not done enough to protect its tenants, the Ballot Measure to impose Rent Control should be defeated. However, some of its ideas must be implemented immediately by the City Council.
State law (AB1482) already imposes a 5% + CPI cap up to a maximum of 10%. It also contains rigorous “just cause” eviction requirements so that Landlords cannot willy-nilly evict Tenants.
Why then do proponents say that we need a local rent control Ballot Measure?
Proponents say that the 10% cap is too much for people to bear. That may be true, but experience has shown that government attempts to impose unrealistic caps on the market are doomed to fail.
Proponents say that AB1482 expires in 2030. Also true, but does anyone believe that the pressure to retain this protection will subside enough to let the law expire?
Proponents want to create an independent, salaried Commission, with staff to enforce the measure and with no limit on its expenditures. Independent estimates are that the Commission will require 26 employees and a budget of $5.8 million. This is excessive and an uncontrolled Commission flies in the face of good progressive government.
Local enforcement of existing laws is not adequate. The City must step up and adequately fund its Housing Department and form a Housing Commission to support these efforts. But what is proposed is an amendment to the City Charter–the local version of a constitutional amendment. It is not the appropriate way to govern in Pasadena. A local ordinance which has the support of the people is the direction we should take.
The Ballot Measure proponents have done a service to the community. They have highlighted shortcomings in the City’s Tenant protection policies.
I believe that Ballot Measure H, the Rent Control Charter Amendment, should be defeated, and that the City Council should be held accountable to implement a serious, adequately funded Tenant protection policy following the model of enforcing the Minimum Wage and the new Police Commission.
Terry Tornek is the former Mayor of Pasadena.
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