Bay Area City Poised to Pass Rent-Control Law

     RICHMOND, Calif. (CN) – The Richmond City Council on Tuesday had to delay a vote on an ordinance that would make the Bay Area burg the first California city in 30 years to institute rent control.
     If passed, the ordinance would limit hikes to the level of increases in the regional Consumer Price Index, about 2 percent a year. It would also stabilize rents for an estimated 10,000 households and require landlords to show “just cause” for evictions.
     The ordinance is designed to protect longtime residents from the sort of economic boom that other Bay Area cities have seen in recent years, but opponents argue that the bill is unfair to landlords and would apply only to certain tenants – forcing property owners to raise rents on others.
     It won preliminary approval at the city council’s July 21 meeting with a 4-1 vote, but at Tuesday’s meeting the council members could not get through a reading of the ordinance.
     The meeting was abruptly adjourned when the council could not get the five necessary votes to continue the meeting past 11:30 p.m.
     Three city council members – Eduardo Martinez, Gayle McLaughlin and Jovanka Beckles – are also members of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, an organization of community activists that supports the ordinance.
     McLaughlin said in a statement that “some wrongly think the market can solve the housing problem.”
     She added, “The reality of the Bay Area’s hot real-estate market is that luxury housing is most profitable and insufficient affordable housing has been built. Those who want to rely solely on the market leave social justice out of the equation.”
     Councilman Vinay Pimple opposes the rent ordinance because its provisions are “marked by extreme hostility to landlords, little knowledge of the city’s own programs and even less knowledge of the rent boards and the public housing sector.”
     “Additionally, there was never any evidence produced either by the proponents or by staff that rent control worked to keep rents low in a city,” he said.
     Mayor Tom Butt, who also opposes the rent control ordinance, told Courthouse News in an email that the alliance is “obsessed” with passing rent control and just cause for eviction “to the exclusion of anything else.”
     A special meeting to vote on the ordinance has been scheduled for July 31 at 6 p.m.

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