The California Apartment Association maintains its opposition to a problematic “anti-harassment” and retaliation ordinance that could leave rental housing providers vulnerable to unwarranted lawsuits and penalties in the East Bay city of Antioch.
On Tuesday, the Antioch City Council tentatively approved the proposal for the second time in two months.
The council had initially approved the ordinance on July 25 but scheduled Tuesday’s hearing after CAA found errors and legally questionable provisions in the proposal detailed in this letter. The ordinance is expected to be returned to the council next month for a final vote.
What the proposal would do
The proposal would empower the city to sue housing providers on behalf of tenants or tenant organizations and categorize certain rent increases as harassment if tenants perceive them that way. The ordinance also would mandate the maintenance of amenities like parking and common areas, even if not economically feasible. Penalties may reach up to $10,000 in fines, rent refunds, attorney’s fees, and potential jail time, although CAA has been instrumental in moving toward removing incarceration from the ordinance.
The ordinance would encompass all residential units in Antioch, including condominiums, single-family homes, and owner-occupied single-family homes where the owner shares living space with a roommate.
At Tuesday’s hearing, CAA continued to advocate for Antioch housing providers, targeting provisions like a presumption of guilt and unauthorized access to private rental property for political activities.
“The CAA continues to take the position that this ordinance is not necessary as it is duplicative of existing laws that already provide robust protections for renters against retaliation, discrimination, and harassment,” said Rhovy Lyn Antonio, senior vice president of local public affairs for CAA, as reported by the East Bay Times.
The ordinance was amended for the third time to align with CAA’s concerns. Key issues included the unconstitutionality of the “right to access” provision and the persistence of jail time in the ordinance, contradicting Mayor Lamar Thorpe’s prior announcement.
“The city would have no control to curb or dictate the conduct of how these groups or individuals would behave when they’re at the property or during their interaction with any other residents or apartment staff,” Antonio said, as reported by the East Bay Times.
The city attorney agreed with CAA’s stance on the “right to access” issue and recommended amendments. He also guided amendments to clarify non-penalties for towing illegally parked cars and eliminate a six-month jail penalty per offense.
The ordinance will undergo a fourth amendment to include all changes since the initial draft and return to the City Council for a final reading next month. If approved, the ordinance will become effective 30 days later.
Contact Rhovy Lyn Antonio at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions or to learn how you can lend your voice in Antioch.