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New Sacramento Rent Control Effort Takes Step Toward November Ballot

Joey Parsons / Flickr

Joey Parsons / Flickr

Sacramento proponents of renter protections took the initial step toward putting a measure on the November ballot.

On Tuesday, a notice was filed with the city clerk’s office for the Sacramento Renter Protection And Community Stabilization Charter Amendment. The petitioners argue that, since the city does not regulate rent prices or prevent certain types of evictions, a new charter amendment is needed.

Michelle Pariset with housing-advocacy group Organize Sacramento signed the petition. She said that average rents in the city went up nearly 10 percent last year — and likely will again in 2018.

“If we want to keep our communities whole,” Pariset said, “we need to do something to stop the displacement.”

Opponents of rent control argue that the types of policies in the proposed amendment are unfair to landlords. Jim Lofgren with the California Apartment Association said a local rent control law would make Sacramento housing more expensive and lead to statewide rent-control policies.

The proposed Sacramento charter amendment includes rules that would:

  • Implement “just cause” protections for tenants. This means that there will be limited reasons that a landlord can evict a renter.

  • Require financial relocation assistance for renters forced to move out. For instance, if a landlord terminates a lease with a tenant so that they can make improvements to a rental unit, the owner would have to pay the renter (at least $5,500 for those living in a studio or one bedroom apartment).

  • limit rent hikes to 100 percent of the Consumer Price Index and to just one increase per year. (The CPI increased by 2.5 percent last year, so that would mean rents could only go up by that amount.)

  • establish an elected, nine-member Rental Housing Board that would set rental rates, enforce the rules, and adjudicate tenant-landlord disputes.

The amendment would not apply to single-family homes, condos or any housing built after 1995, as per the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. A statewide ballot measure currently being circulated for signatures would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act and allow rent control on newer apartments and housing.

Once proponents get approval, they have 180 days to gather approximately 36,000 signatures, according to the city clerk’s office. All signatures are due by May 15 for verification and city council certification.

Several California cities currently have some form of rent-control policy on the books, including Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland.

Randol White contributed to this story.

This story previously reported that Lofgren is with the Rental Housing Association. The RHA recently merged with the California Apartment Association.

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