This story is way off my beat, but it’s interesting and I haven’t seen it covered anywhere else, so I thought I’d write a short note about it.1 On April 19, Gil Cedillo and Marqueece Harris-Dawson initiated Council File 17-0454 with this motion, which instructs HCIDLA to recommend to the Council an ordinance which would prohibit landlords from evicting tenants in units NOT subject to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance without “just cause.”2
Just cause would be defined as it is in the RSO, which at §151.09 gives a list of 14 allowable reasons for eviction. Laws like this are being adopted throughout the Bay Area, and the motion instructs HCIDLA to ask cities up there how they’re doing it.
This ordinance won’t solve everything, and of course there are some loopholes, most notably in paragraph 10, which essentially duplicates the much-abused, much-reviled Ellis Act, allowing evictions in case the owner is going to demolish the structure or remove it from the rental market. But nothing’s perfect, and a law like this would be far, far better than nothing. It will be interesting to see what kind of pushback the zillionaires apply. My guess is that it’s too politically harmful for them to come out explicitly against it, so they’ll support it and rely on loopholes and an always-sympathetic City government to be sure that it won’t actually apply to them at all.
Turn the page for the complete text of the motion.
The City of Los Angeles is experiencing a severe housing supply and affordability crisis that requires action by the City. The affordability crisis threatens the public health, safety, and welfare of our residents. A May 2016 report authored by California Housing Partnership Corporation (CHPC) and Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing (SCANPH) found that median rent in Los Angeles County had increased 28 percent since 2000 while median renter household income had declined 8 percent when adjusted for inflation. Los Angeles renters need to earn 3.9 times the local minimum wage to afford the average monthly asking rent of $2,108. Los Angeles County’s lowest-income renters spend 71 percent of income on rent, leaving little left for food, transportation, health, expenses, and other needs. To afford this average monthly rent, individuals making the City’s median income of $49,500 would have to spend more than 50 percent of their income on rent. According to the Los Angeles Times, many of the neighborhoods in CD 1, CD 8, CD 9, CD 10, CD 13, CD 14, and CD 15 have median incomes below $35,000. The April 2017 Zumper National Rent Report lists Los Angeles as the sixth-most expensive rental market in the nation with rental prices for a one-bedroom jumping 3 percent in March from the previous month.
Displacement through evictions has a direct impact on the health, safety and/or welfare of Los Angeles citizens by uprooting children from their schools, disrupting longstanding community networks that are integral to citizens’ welfare, forcing low-income residents to pay unaffordable relocation costs, segregating low income residents into less healthy, less safe, and more overcrowded housing that is often further removed from vital public services and leaving residents with unhealthy levels of stress and anxiety as they attempt to cope with the threat of homelessness.
Bay Area Cities are implementing new eviction and rent stabilization measures in response to their severe housing supply shortage and affordability crisis. Almost all of them (Alameda, Emeryville, Mountain View, Oakland, and Richmond) include provisions that prohibit landlords from terminating tenancies of rental units except for “just cause”. The Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID) and City Attorney should provide Council with recommendations for instituting similar laws in Los Angeles.
I THEREFORE MOVE that the Housing and Community Investment Department in consultation with the City Attorney, communicate with cities in the Bay Area and report to Council in 30 days with recommendations on the feasibility of preparing an ordinance that prohibits landlords from terminating tenancies in rental units not subject to the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) unless for just cause, as defined by the City’s fourteen legal reasons for termination of a tenancy found in the RSO.
GILBERT A. CEDILLO
Councilmember, District 1
Image of Gil Cedillo is a modified version of this image from Wikimedia, and it’s now ©2017 MichaelKohlhaas.Org.