I am a renter in South Pasadena, and I am paying attention to the issues of affordable housing and tenant protections in South Pasadena.
By Brian Farrell
Am I getting involved for selfish reasons because I don’t want my partner and me, tenants in good standing, to be evicted by the new owners of our building? Perhaps. That’s certainly how it started, but I have been attending South Pasadena City Council meetings over the past couple of months, listening to public comments, making public comments, and hearing the City Council members’ response to concerns, I find myself caring more and more about the bigger issue at hand. I even find myself knocking on doors, canvassing my neighborhood with my partner to encourage residents to attend City Council meetings. In the process I’ve had some great conversations with my neighbors and listened to their concerns.
These issues aren’t just about my affordable rent potentially being in jeopardy, but about my neighbors’ and the housing crisis at large. Residents on disability, average working people, single parents with school age children, and the elderly in South Pasadena inevitably could be displaced or worse, find themselves without a home if this trend of evicting residents for no just cause continues. Landlords can do this by exploiting a loophole in AB1482: the California’s Tenant Protection Act: they can claim they need to do “substantial renovations.” Their sole intention is to remove tenants in order to put the units back on the market with the rent well above what the displaced renter was paying. Fortunately, the South Pasadena City Council passed the 45-Day Eviction Moratorium on May 17, 2023.
There had been impressive measurable progress displayed by the work done by South Pasadena’s Housing Specialist Leah Demarest, members of the City Council, the South Pasadena Tenants Union and CareFirst South Pasadena during this 45-Day Eviction Moratorium. The intent of the moratorium was not to delay just to delay, but to make time to approach the issues thoughtfully and to come to a solution that is both reasonable and compassionate. An ordinance that I believe did just this was presented to the City Council on June 13, 2023; this ordinance would remove “substantial renovations” as a just cause for eviction.
After extensive public comment from both sides, however, the consensus of the City Council is that more time is needed to research the impact of the ordinance on the local housing market, so it was suggested that the moratorium be extended. The City Council is set to vote on whether the moratorium should be extended 45-days, 10 months, or not at all.
The clock is ticking. One resident who wants to delay the process of putting these tenant protections in place said in his public comment, “Let’s keep kicking the can down the road.”
I say, let’s not.
Brian Farrell is an actor, writer and filmmaker based in South Pasadena.
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