Freeze! City Council votes to put a cap on rent increase

The ordinance would begin a 12-month period of rent capping

By Dennis J. Freeman

City Editor

The Culver City Council voted 4-1 to enact an emergency ordinance that would freeze rent increase not to exceed four percent throughout the city. Following in the footsteps of other local municipalities, the council voted to halt rent increases for the next 12 months.

The City Council meeting in preparation for this public hearing was scheduled on Monday and lasted for hours. Councilmembers Alex Fisch, Daniel Lee, Thomas Aujero Small, as well as Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells voted in favor of the ordinance. City Council member Goran Eriksson voted in opposition to the rent freeze.

The council's vote means the ordinance would be in effect until Aug. 11, 2020. However, the temporary rent freeze only covers housing units built or erected by Feb. 1, 1995.

What the rent block does is limit the number of rent increases during the period of the ordinance, require landlords to hand out to tenants 30, 60, and 90-day notices of any type of rent inflation, mandate that property owners redo a lease if there are new terms, including rent increases, and define no-fault evictions, among other things.

For landlords or property owners found in noncompliance with the ordinance, they face fines for violations. There is also a tenant petition process if a landlord is operating in noncompliance with the ordinance.

The council did its homework in producing findings that would back up its decision. In its presentation in front of the City Council with the backdrop of residents and property owners, bae urban economics, spilled out its Temporary Rent Cap and Relocation Assistance Policy Studies that would help strengthen the city's position on the need for a temporary rent freeze.

One basis that may have factored in the council's determination to freeze rent in the city is that other cities such as Inglewood, Glendale, the unincorporated area of Los Angeles County, Santa Cruz, and the city of Alameda, each have had to implement rent freezes. Inglewood and unincorporated Los Angeles County still have their urgency rent ordinances in effect.

The rent cap instituted by Unincorporated Los Angeles has gone on for more than a year and is expected to end Dec. 31. Inglewood's rent freeze is currently slated to last until Dec. 14 this year, for a total of 284 days. All the cities listed have allowed rent to increase, but on a very minimal scale.

The slight in rent increase range in those cities with temporary rent freezes is from two to eight percent. Culver City fall well within these parameters, capping out raised rent during the ordinance period at four percent. In its report, bae urban economics claim that rent has increased 41. 2 percent-at an average of 3.9 percent- from 2010 through 2019.

According to other findings by bae urban economics, that 84 percent of the city's 3,437 multifamily housing units that may be eligible for a rent cap. Another startling statistic is that Culver City's 2013-2021 Housing Element has 43.7 percent of the city residents as "rent burdened."

With rent being on the rise before the council's vote, the city's homeless population ballooned as well, increasing to 150 percent, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) in a report that came out in 2017.


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