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Los Angeles County Takes Step Toward Rent Control

Vote Would Cap Increases in Unincorporated Neighborhoods


An apartment building in Valencia where the new rent control would take effect. (Remy Burnaugh/Flickr)

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to advance a rent control measure that would limit future increases and add new restrictions on evictions in unincorporated areas of the county.

The measure, approved 5-0 on Tuesday, would cap yearly rent increases on apartments to 3% plus inflation to a maximum of 8% a year and prohibit evictions without just cause, meaning a tenant could only be evicted if they do not pay rent or if they break the terms of their lease. Landlords would also have to provide relocation assistance for tenants evicted without fault.

More than 160 locals testified before the vote, with many saying their wages are not keeping up with rent increases. Some worried about being pushed into homelessness.

Los Angeles is second only to New York in its number of homeless residents. Almost 60,000 people are without homes in Los Angeles County, up 12% from the previous year, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

"I believe very deeply in doing everything you can to help people just have a chance to have a place to live, to have food on the table, to have their kids in a good school," Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said during Tuesday's meeting.

The measure would target parts of Los Angeles County, including Marina del Rey, Baldwin Hills, Valencia and Ladera Heights.

Many landlords opposed the legislation, saying they too are dealing with high costs and the expense of added regulations.

“If you own in some of these pockets, you’re deeply concerned,” said Kitty Wallace, executive vice president at commercial real estate firm Colliers International.

It was also pointed out at the meeting that, in some cases, entire families with several members working minimum wage jobs were still unable to pay their rents.

A separate measure also passed Tuesday would establish five pilot sites throughout L.A. County to begin providing legal defense for families who face eviction.

According to a recent report by pro bono law firm Public Counsel and the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law Community Economic Development Clinic, 56% of Los Angeles residents are spending more than 30% of their incomes on rent. About 31% are spending at least half of their wages on rent, according to the report.

The board's action would make permanent a temporary measure it imposed last year. Then, the Board of Supervisors voted to impose a 180-day moratorium, beginning in December, on rent increases of more than 3% a year and against just cause evictions with the option to extend it if necessary. The term was later extended through Dec. 31 of this year.

Average rents for market-rate apartments can range greatly in unincorporated Los Angeles from around $981 a month in East Los Angeles up to, among the most expensive, $3,600 a month in Marina del Rey , according to CoStar data from the end of last year.

Tuesday’s vote effectively directs county officials to draft a permanent rent stabilization ordinance that they are expected to bring back to the board for a vote in November.

The vote came after one by the California state Senate, advancing statewide legislation that would bar landlords from raising housing rents more than 5% a year plus inflation and strengthen a provision preventing owners from evicting tenants without "just cause."

Article by CoStar

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