Members of the Glendale Tenants Union joined a coalition of about 100 renters from communities throughout Southern California Thursday afternoon outside Los Angeles County offices to rally for rent control and improved conditions for renters.
Along with an expansion of rent control beyond the 15 California cities where it is currently in effect, rally participants urged the repeal of the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act — a state law that bars rent-control measures from being placed on single-family homes and apartments built after 1995.
Mike Van Gorder, who rents near downtown Glendale and is a captain with the Glendale Tenants Union, spoke alongside representatives from 12 similar tenant groups from cities such as Los Angeles, Pasadena, Long Beach and Santa Ana on the steps of the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration building in a push for regional rent control.
He shared the story of a 27-year Glendale resident whose rent increased about $900 over five years as well as a family who he said had to move 60 miles away from their home because of a $700 jump in rent.
"Our communities are bleeding residents to satisfy the unstoppable greed of predatory corporate landlords and the scrappy opportunism of property flippers," he said. "We, the renters, homeowners, property owners of the Glendale Tenants Union… value our community more than your right to take economic advantage of our community for your own enrichment."
Members of the Glendale Tenants Union submitted a proposed rent-stabilization ordinance to the city of Glendale in January and are currently working to collect 10,000 signatures to qualify for the November 2018 municipal ballot.
The proposal would regulate several rental agreements, including a cap on the amount of rent a landlord can charge, with an annual increase restriction of 4%.
Like Glendale, the Pasadena Tenants Union is in the process of collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that would amend Pasadena's city charter to cap rent increases at 4.5% annually.
Allison Henry, who spoke as a member of the Pasadena Tenants Union, said uncontrolled rent increases also add to the region's homeless population.
"We cannot have more homeless people on the streets than in houses in Los Angeles," she said.
Promise Li, a member of the grassroots collective Chinatown Community for Equitable Development, said local residents and small businesses in Chinatown have been displaced due to irresponsible development and high rent hikes.
"Some experts tell us that expansion of rent control is destructive and discourages community growth but, as other people have said here, the opposite is, in fact, true," he said.