Rent control measure makes it onto 2020 ballot

By Sheri Williams

The Sacramento Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Charter Amendment has qualified for the 2020 ballot.

Backed by a coalition of labor and housing advocates, signature gatherers collected over 44,000 signatures from registered voters in the City of Sacramento, nearly 20 percent of all voters, to qualify the measure for the next election.

Under the measure, Sacramento would cap rent hikes at 5 percent, a critical protection as housing costs continue to soar in the region, pushing out middle- and working-class families.

The measure would also protect renters from unjust evictions, and would establish an elected rental housing board to monitor and enforce the new laws.

SEIU stalwart Margarita Maldonado, a principal backer of the effort, told media she hears regularly, “from people who are being displaced by high rents and the actions that landlords and corporations have taken.”

The Labor Council’s Tamie Dramer said the measure was necessary to prevent rents from continuing to rise.

Under the measure, annual rent increases would be tied to the Consumer Price Index, with a maximum annual increase of 5 percent.

Landlords would be prevented from evicting their tenants except for a list of nine specific reasons, including failure to pay rent, illegal use of the property and breaking the rental agreement. For certain kinds of evictions where a landlord wants to make major repairs, take over the property to live in or take it off the rental market, the landlord would need to pay the tenant to relocate, up to $5,500.

The measure would also create a community housing board with nine members. Eight of those members would be elected by district and one appointed by the mayor. That board would annually decide how much area rents could increase, but it couldn’t exceed more than 100 percent of the Consumer Price Index. That index rose 2.5 percent last year, meaning if the ordinance had been in place, local rents could have risen a maximum of 2.5 percent.

The ordinance would only apply to most units built before 1995, since state law exempts other units from rent control.

Statewide, Proposition 10 on the Nov. ballot would also provide rent control protections by repealing that unfair exemption of newer units. Called the Costa-Hawkins law, the measure was passed under Republican Governor Pete Wilson, and limits cities’ ability to expand rent control.