The Santa Ana City Council on Tuesday granted preliminary approval to rent and eviction control ordinances, ignoring input from rental housing providers and the fact that state law already offers comprehensive protections against excessive rent increases and evictions without cause.
The rent control and just-cause-for-eviction measures passed on a 4-3 vote but must return to council for a ratification vote on Oct. 5.
In a letter to the City Council, CAA points out that the ordinances fail to address the city’s housing shortage and that the city has tens of millions of unspent dollars for rent relief.
Tuesday evening, the council heard from 93 speakers over five hours of testimony.
While rent control and just cause are advancing, CAA’s mobilization of members and coalition partners defeated a proposal to apply the policies immediately on an urgency basis.
As proposed, the ordinances would have the following impacts to Santa Ana property owners
- Cap rent increases at 80% of the Consumer Price Index, with a 3% ceiling.
- Impose fair-rate-of-return reviews by a hearing officer or potentially a rent board.
- Create government red tape on evictions, endangering the public safety of owners, employees, and other tenants.
- Establish eviction restrictions that take effect on the 31st day of tenancy.
- Require three months of rent as relocation assistance for owners to move back into their own homes.
- Impose mandatory translation requirements for notices.
The city developed its proposals in secret meetings and with zero stakeholder outreach. Moreover, the measures surfaced just days after CAA published this article questioning the city’s management of its rental assistance program, which has served only 3% of Santa Ana households, leaving over $35 million still to be distributed.
Efforts to bring rent control to Santa Ana trace to 2018, when tenant activists attempted but failed to qualify an initiative for the ballot. A second attempt in 2020 also fell short.
The latest push for rent control, at the council level, comes after the election of a more progressive council in 2020.
CAA is evaluating all options, including a possible challenge to the implementation of the ordinances, and will consult with its members on next steps.