As the end of the eviction moratorium neared and tenants feared of increased rents since rents prices had been frozen for the previous 18 months and non-payment could result in an eviction, the Santa Ana City Council quickly decided to impose stricter rent control than imposed by the state. Here are the differences between the two:
Just Cause after 1 year
Max rent increase of CPI plus 5%
No relocation paid
Tenant must abide by contract
Just Cause after 1 month
Max rent increase of 80% of CPI or 3% whichever is lower
3 month’s rent as a relocation fee
Unlimited occupants allowed
This ordnance became law November 19th. Initially, the California Apartment Association, the National Association of Realtors, the California Association of Realtors and the Pacific West Association of Realtors were prepared to spend $100,000 to secure 12,500 signatures and put this item on the ballot at the next election and then spend another $400,000 making sure it did not win. They only had about a month to gather these signatures, but moved ahead and hire paid signature gatherers. But surprisingly, after three weeks, they had only collected a few thousand signatures and community sentiment was incredibly aggressive towards the measure to overturn this strict rent control measure.
This group will certainly attempt to spend money against one council member who voted for it since the measure passed 4 to 3 in favor of it. But no city has ever overturned rent control once it has been voted in place, and voter turnout, particularly tenant voter turnout, will be substantial to keep this measure in place.
The victory for rent control by voters in Santa Ana will embolden cities with a high percent of renters to clamor for similar benefits including Anaheim and Long Beach. The ultimate goal of tenant rights groups is stricter rent control for all rental properties including single family homes. If the protectors of private property rights can overturn this new city law in the next election, it will send a strong signal to elected officials in other cities to think twice before conceding to tenants in their communities or do so in peril of their position. But if this law withstands these forces and remains law, it may embolden cities with similar demographics to pressure their elected leaders to provide like type laws.