• A highlight of a Measure

      Pasadena’s Measure H (Photo – Graphics Dept.)

      Over the past five years Pasadena residents have worked to place a series of tenant protections on the ballot via the ballot measure process.

      By News Desk

      After a first attempt failed to get enough signatures to qualify for the 2018 ballot, a larger coalition gathered over 20,000 signatures between October 2021 and March 2022. After L.A. County verification, the campaign had 15,101 valid signatures—13% more than the required 13,366.

      Measure H

      Measure H consists of several key protections that give tenants stability in their housing while allowing landlords to raise the rent a fair amount. The core provisions of this Pasadena rent control measure include:

      • Rent control:
        Rent increases limited to 75% of the rate of inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index in March of each year. This works out to 2-3% in a normal year. This is typical of modern rent control measures which tie rent increases to the Consumer Price Index. Pasadena’s proposed percentage of CPI is typical of that established this year by two neighboring cities.
      • Just cause eviction protections:
        Landlord would only be able to evict tenants after providing a reason (a just cause). Allowing reasons for eviction include failure to pay rent, violation of terms of the lease, or refusal to give the access to the unit for necessary repairs. Other just causes ”no fault” include the owner or their immediate family moving into the unit or the landlord permanently taking the unit off the market.
      • Relocation assistance:
        If a tenant is evicted for a “no fault” reason, landlords would have to pay relocation assistance to help them move. If the landlord has a comparable unit available, the tenants being displaced would have first choice of that unit.
      • Rental board:
        The city council would appoint a rental board of Pasadena residents —one tenant from each of the seven council districts and four at-large members. The board will implement the provisions of the measure and oversee the program. Landlords can appeal for an upwards adjustment in rent if they are not able to make a fair return on their investment (protected by state and federal law) and tenants can appeal for a downwards adjustment in rent if uninhabitable conditions are not remedied in a reasonable amount of time.
      • Rental registry:
        A rental registry will keep track of all the rental units in the city and the history of the rent charged at each rental unit. This will help housing advocates, local government, and the rental board make informed decisions about housing policy. It will also allow tenants to verify that a unit is legal before signing a lease.

      State law provides numerous preemptions to local tenant protections, including

      • Rent control is prohibited for single family homes, condos, and apartment buildings built in 1995 or later. An independent analysis of Measure H by city staff estimates that 77% of the multifamily housing stock in Pasadena was built before 1995.
      • When a tenant vacates a unit, the landlord may reset the rent to whatever price they deem appropriate. There is no limit on starting rents for vacant units.

      The implementation of the measure will be paid for by an annual per-unit fee on landlords (similar to a licensing fee paid by a restaurant). The objective analysis provided by city staff estimates the cost per unit at $184 per year.

      > The proponents of Measure H have provided a lengthy FAQ section on the Measure H website.

      > The opponents to Measure H have also provided information at their website.

      > Read the entire text of the measure.

       

       

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      Contributor

      Comments

      1. Gavin R. Putland says:

        What’s better than rent control? A tax on vacant lots and unoccupied buildings. While rent control makes it less attractive to supply accommodation, a vacant-property tax makes it less attractive NOT to! Such a tax, although sometimes called a “vacancy tax”, is not limited to what real-estate agents call “vacancies” — that is, properties available for rent. It also applies to vacant lots and empty properties that are not on the rental market, and prompts the owners to put them onto the market and get them occupied in order to avoid the tax.

        By the way, the desired *avoidance* of the vacant-property tax would initiate economic activity, expanding the bases of other taxes and allowing their rates to be reduced, so the rest of us—including tenants, home owners, and landlords with tenants—would pay LESS tax!

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