Culver City approves new rent control ordinance

Joins several Southland cities

OW Staff Writer | 8/15/2019, midnight

Culver City this week approved a temporary rent control measure, joining several other Southland cities that have hardened tenant protections as the state and county confront an affordability crisis.

In a 4 to 1 vote that followed a five-hour discussion, the city council capped annual increases to 3 percent in buildings built on or before Feb. 1, 1995. Tenants in those properties will have just-cause evictions protections as well, meaning a landlord can’t remove them unless certain conditions are met, such as failure to pay rent, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The “rent freeze” is set to expire in a year—a move officials say is needed to prevent landlords from jacking up rents while a permanent measure is debated.

“We need to have the freeze in order to have the conversation because the conversation causes displacement,” Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells said.

Restrictions on rent increases and evictions are gaining ground in California as homelessness has surged and tenants at times face rent hikes of more than 50 percent.

Earlier this year, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors extended temporary caps for unincorporated areas while it works on a permanent version. Inglewood did the same amid concerns that investors, attracted by the new Rams-Chargers stadium, were displacing longtime residents.

Glendale, Pasadena and Long Beach took less aggressive approaches but mandated relocation payments for many tenants forced to leave after steep rent increases.

In those areas, the fight for more protections was led by a growing tenant movement flexing its muscle through protests and rent strikes, said Joe Delgado of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, a low-income advocacy group. Delgado said in some cases, renters have even taken protests directly to their landlords’ homes.

But in Culver City, the effort for greater tenant rights has been driven by Protect Culver City Renters, which described itself as a group of mostly homeowners, as well as some renters and small landlords.