LA County Moves Closer to Rent Control

By: Janet Gagnon

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 yesterday (Supervisor Barger being the sole opposing vote) to approve an interim ordinance to limit rent increases to 3% annually in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County using September 11 as the date for determining the base rent amount. The ordinance would currently apply to multifamily buildings built before 1995. The County staff will now draft a final ordinance and bring it back to the Board of Supervisors within 60 days for their final approval. If passed, then the ordinance would be effective 30 days after it is finally approved. The ordinance is supposed to last 6 months, but can be extended by the Board of Supervisors. The stated justification for the interim ordinance is that “rents continue to spiral upward making it necessary for us (the County) to take action to protect tenants from unreasonable rent increases and evictions without just cause before we (Supervisors) have had the opportunity to fully deliberate on and adopt permanent tenant protection policies, such as a rent stabilization program (aka Rent Control).”
According to the increase in rents for Los Angeles in 2018 is only 1.1%. Over 20 business organizations and individual mom & pop owners, including AAGLA and several of its members testified at the hearing yesterday. All of their statements of facts and appeals for mercy and justice for mom & pop owners fell on deaf ears. While Supervisor Sheila Kuehl opened the discussion by stating that it was the County’s duty to take care of its seniors, she adamantly refused to acknowledge that a vast majority of mom & pop owners are also seniors that saved for decades to buy their building and secure their retirement. Supervisor Kuehl implied that mom & pop rental housing owners are a dying breed (likening them to family farmers). Thus, like Dr. Kevorkian, she smugly feels justified in passing bad public policy (this rent freeze and the upcoming permanent rent control) that will force them into going out of business. Supervisors Hilda Solis, Janice Hahn and Mark Ridley-Thomas share in the shame as to the unjust treatment for mom & pop owners. Supervisor Hahn took the extraordinary step to have language added to the motion for staff to look into a special exemption from rent control for Marina Del Rey, since the County itself is the landlord. Clearly, she’s a “let them eat cake” kind of Supervisor. Rent control is fine for struggling mom & pop owners, but the queen/County should not be subject to the same rules. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas added several amendments that were accepted, including looking into establishing a Right to Counsel (lawyer paid for by the County) for tenants only. This is the same bad idea that the City of Los Angeles is currently looking into and that San Francisco passed by ballot measure (a vote of the people and NOT by City Council) that will cost them at least $4-$5 million per year.
For those who think that this interim ordinance does not affect them, please think again. Both Supervisors Kuehl and Solis have stated publicly that they are hoping that cities within Los Angeles County will follow suit and adopt rent control ordinances. This means that every city within Los Angeles County that does not already have rent control is at risk. Also, for those of you that own single family homes (or know people who do) this will impact you as well as a homeowner. The Tenant Protections Working Group has already recommended to the Board of Supervisors that Just Cause eviction requirements be placed on single family homes and accessory dwelling units (ADUs), since Costa-Hawkins only excludes them from rent control. The working group also discussed that if Prop 10 passes in November that permanent rent control by the County should be expanded to include single family homes, condos, ADUs and multifamily buildings built after 1995 with a new working group to be formed to craft the expansion.

AAGLA urges all Los Angeles County members to email the Board of Supervisors and tell them:

  1. You are NOT a dying breed and strongly object to being forced out of business by their bad policies of a rent freeze, just cause and permanent rent control.
  2. You are living and breathing retired seniors and deserve the same type of care and concern as seniors that are tenants.
  3. If there is going to be an exemption from rent control for the County as landlord for Marina Del Rey, then there should also be an exemption for mom & pop owners.
  4. Right to counsel should either NOT be adopted or it must be given to BOTH tenants and mom & pop owners to be fair.
  5. There are better ways to help tenants than rent control, such as rental vouchers/subsidies and public housing.
Please copy on your emails and be sure to include the City and Zip Code for your property in your emails to the Supervisors, so they can recognize you as constituents.

Click here to read the motion

Click here for the Board of Supervisors Contact Information