The City Council on Tuesday placed a temporary ceiling on rent increases in mobile home parks and ordered a rollback of some rents to June levels.
In a special meeting, rescheduled to Tuesday afternoon after a quorum could not be reached Monday, the council gave final approval to the measure on a 5-1 vote. The ordinance will take effect Jan. 30. Mayor Donna Smith dissented and Councilman Boyd Bredenkamp was on vacation.
Last week during a preliminary vote, Smith and Bredenkamp voted against the ordinance, saying they wanted to wait until the city staff completes a study of rents charged at Pomona's mobile home parks. The report was still not completed when the council voted Tuesday.
Nancy Guider, assistant to the city manager, said the city staff will present the survey of mobile home parks to the council on Jan. 20. The study will help the council decide whether to implement permanent rent-control regulations, she said.
The temporary ceiling, which will remain in effect for up to 45 days or until a permanent regulation is adopted, allows rents to rise no more than 10% above the level charged last July 1. It also requires park owners who have raised rents by more than 10% since then to lower them to the July 1 level.
Landlords who violate the ordinance could be sued by tenants and be forced to pay damages amounting to three times the excessive charges.
The council asked for the study on Dec. 2 after mobile home tenants protested rent increases due to go into effect on Jan. 1.
For months, activists among the city's 3,230 mobile home park tenants have accused the council of dragging its feet on the rent-control issue. The renters claim that the council members do not understand all the problems at mobile home parks, including poor maintenance and rent-gouging.
Two weeks ago some mobile home residents served recall notices on Smith and Bredenkamp, the two council members who have been the most reluctant to support rent control.
Tenants also complained that efforts to mediate disagreements with landlords have been unfruitful.
Landlords, on the other hand, insist that city officials stay out of the rent issue.
The Westerner Mobilehome Assn., which represents park owners, has urged the council to reject rent control as too costly, unfair and unneeded.
It claims that rents in Pomona are below the county average. The association advocated the use of federal rent-subsidy programs to help the needy in place of rent controls.
Also, last week, Bredenkamp warned the city to await the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on a pending case that could limit the city's power to regulate rents.
Other council members argued that the ceiling will still allow landlords to make a profit.