Following a hearing Tuesday, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge denied most of the California Apartment Association’s claims challenging Pasadena’s rent and eviction control policies.
CAA filed a lawsuit in December challenging the rent control law, which Pasadena voters approved as Measure H in the fall. The association alleged that the measure was an unlawful revision to the city’s charter, that the restrictions on who may serve on the rent board created to administer the law were unconstitutional, and that various provisions of the ordinance were preempted by state law.
In a 35-page ruling issued after the hearing, Judge Mary Strobel rejected a majority of CAA’s claims, finding that “Measure H does not fundamentally alter the Pasadena City Charter or the basic structure of city government in Pasadena.”
The judge also upheld the measure’s provisions requiring that tenants make up a super majority of the rent board. CAA had argued that these restrictions violated the state constitution, which prohibits conditioning the right to hold public office on a “property qualification,” as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the state and federal constitutions.
Strobel rejected these claims, finding that the state constitution’s prohibition on property qualifications was not applicable in this circumstance and that the equal protection clause was not implicated as landlords and tenants are not “similarly situated.”
The ruling further rejected CAA’s challenge to the measure’s requirement for landlords to pay relocation assistance to tenants who move out in response to a rent increase, which CAA asserted was an improper penalty on rental property owners who are exempt from rent control under the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. The judge found that since the requirement doesn’t directly restrict rent increases, Costa-Hawkins remains unviolated.
In a sliver of good news, the judge agreed that provisions extending the notice period for terminating tenancies for owner move-ins or pursuant to the Ellis Act beyond state law requirements are preempted.
“We appreciate Judge Strobel’s time and effort in considering our case, and while we respect the thoroughness of her ruling, we believe most of her conclusions to be incorrect,” said Whitney Prout, CAA’s legal and compliance counsel. “We remain committed to advocating for the rights of rental property owners in Pasadena and will continue to explore all available options to address our concerns in relation to Measure H, including a possible appeal.”