The Pasadena Fray
In August, the City mailed a survey to 600 landlords. The tenant survey was released three weeks later and only posted once on the City’s Facebook page.
By Ryan Bell
For five months, South Pasadena City Councilmembers have been hearing from tenants about something called “renovictions.” That’s when a landlord, looking for a legal way to evict everyone in a building (or several buildings), claims they are going to do major renovations that require all the tenants to leave. Permanently. It is a very common landlord tactic, and whether those renovations actually happen is another story.
Councilmembers and city staff have been working on an ordinance to protect tenants. They imposed a 60-day moratorium on all evictions that don’t arise from something the tenant did to break the lease. During those 60 days, the city held a stakeholder meeting and two community forums to gather public input on the issue and answer questions about the proposed ordinance. Best practice on renoviction ordinances is to require landlords to pull permits for the work they plan to do, and only force tenants out if the work would present a danger to their life and health were they to stay.
In June, just as council was set to pass the ordinance, council instead extended the moratorium to six months. The concern was what effect the prohibition on renovictions would have on “mom & pop landlords,” an issue raised by landlord lobbyists.
To get further input from the public, the city designed a survey. In August, the city mailed the survey to 600 landlords. However, the tenant survey was released three weeks later and only posted once on the South Pasadena City’s Facebook page. When the South Pasadena Tenants Union (SPTU) asked city staff why access to the survey was so unequal, they were told that it would be too costly and time-consuming to send a direct mailer to each South Pasadena tenant, since over 50% of South Pasadenans are renters. Tenants and landlords had until September 17 to complete the survey.
The SPTU told me that they remain concerned that any ordinance will be designed around the needs of the CAA without equal opportunity for tenants to influence the legislation.
City staff plans to take the results of the survey to city council in October.
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