Business & Economy

Housing activists in Inglewood, Pasadena latest to pursue rent control

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File photo: A "For Rent" sign is seen on a building Hollywood, California, May 11, 2016.
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

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Housing activists in Inglewood and Pasadena on Friday announced plans to put rent control initiatives before their cities' voters next year as part of a regional groundswell of interest in rental caps.

These campaigns come after a spate of Bay Area cities put rent control on the ballot last year. Rent control supporters in two cities — Mountain View and Richmond — were successful, and those outcomes fueled hopes that Southern California communities could also limit rent increases. 

The efforts come as California faces a housing crisis that shows no signs of abating.

Activists in Inglewood appear to be the farthest along, having filed a petition seeking a ballot initiative in October. They say they are worried that current residents will not be able to stay in a city that is undergoing a boom in real estate development and improvements like the construction of parks and bike lanes.   

"Our goal is for people who live here to get to benefit from all the development, and being able to afford here," said D'Artagnan Scorza, a leader of Uplift Inglewood.

The California Apartment Association, which had fought the rent control campaigns in Northern California, said it would be closely monitoring all the efforts underway in southern California. Executive Vice President Tommy Thompson said price controls only discourage the construction of new units, and leads to deferred maintenance on existing apartments. 

"Fixing the housing crisis with failed policies doesn't work," Thompson said. "We need to fix the root of the problem and build more housing."

Patti Tippo, a member of the Pasadena Tenants Union, said rent control is needed to counter monthly increases upwards of $200 seen by some members.
Patti Tippo, a member of the Pasadena Tenants Union, said rent control is needed to counter monthly increases upwards of $200 seen by some members.
Josie Huang/KPCC

Activists in Pasadena submitted their notice of intent with the city on Wednesday. Patti Tippo of the Pasadena Tenant's Union said renters are seeing monthly rents go up hundreds of dollars overnight.

"It's displacing people, it's causing a general anxiety among renters," Tippo said. "And it's not right." 

City spokesman William Boyer had no comment.

Glendale activists had filed for a rental control initiative earlier this fall, but errors in their documentation means they have to start from scratch. One of their leaders, Michael Van Gorder, told KPCC that their intent is to try again and aim for an initiative for the fall 2018 ballot.

Long Beach activists filed last week, but their petition was rejected because of insufficient information. They plan to try again in about 10 days.