Despite hearing from several concerned residents, a majority of Burbank City Council members said this week they thought there was no urgency to temporarily protect renters before new state legislation goes into effect regarding evictions.
Council members voted 3-2 on Tuesday to note and file a report regarding whether Burbank should join a growing list of cities in the state adopting temporary just-cause eviction ordinances to provide renters some relief until Assembly Bill 1482 goes into effect on Jan. 1.
The measure, which was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Oct. 8, establishes just-cause evictions for tenants who have lived in their units for at least 12 months and live in an apartment that’s more than 15 years old.
Landlords would have two options for eviction under the new law: at-fault or no-fault causes.
At-fault evictions include a tenant not staying up to date on rent payments or breaking a clause in their lease agreement. However, landlords must give tenants time to remedy their issues.
Tenants can still be evicted without cause when the new state law comes into effect, but landlords who choose that type of eviction are required to pay a relocation fee for each affected tenant.
The new legislation also caps annual rent increases to 5%, plus inflation.
Several cities in California — Los Angeles, Daly City, Bell Gardens, Redwood City, Inglewood and Culver City — have either had some type of rent control or just-cause eviction ordinance recently approved to cover the three-month gap in protection created by AB 1482.
Several Burbank residents said they were hoping the local city council would do the same.
Burbank currently does not have regulations preventing landlords from evicting tenants without cause.
Maribel Leyland, Burbank’s housing authority manager, told the council that the city has received about 25 inquiries regarding no-fault evictions, and that there were six tenants who presented their no-fault eviction notices to city officials.
Burbank resident Annie McGruddy is currently being affected by a no-fault eviction.
She and her neighbors who live in a nine-unit apartment building in the 600 block of Whitnal Highway were served no-fault eviction notices on Oct. 9, just a day after they were notified their apartment building had changed ownership.
She said during the council meeting that the new landlord recently extended the move-out date for her and her neighbors from early December to New Year’s Eve, which she said she thinks is not enough time to find a new home and enough money to cover the costs associated with moving.
“As long-term tenants of that apartment [building], we have done nothing to warrant this no-cause eviction,” McGruddy said.
“It’s thrown our lives in disarray and will cost us thousands of dollars between relocation expenses [and] new security deposits and other moving costs,” she added.
Had the City Council drafted and approved a just-cause ordinance by mid-November, City Atty. Amy Albano said it could have stopped the evictions for those who received notices this month, depending on how city officials worded the interim regulation.
Burbank resident Molly Shore said she is all too familiar with no-fault evictions because she was a victim of the practice more than two years ago.
Shore, who has been a renter in Burbank for the past 16 years, said if Los Angeles can help its constituents, so should Burbank.
“It is very important that they protect these people,” Shore said before the council meeting.
Although Shore was in support of Burbank adopting an ordinance protecting local renters, she said she is not a supporter of AB 1482 because it does not go far enough to prevent price gouging.
Instead of allowing landlords to charge up to 5% rent increases, plus inflation, annually, Shore said she would liked to have seen hikes capped at 3% each year.
Before council members cast their votes, Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy said she did not see why there was an urgent need to pass an interim ordinance.
“What was said tonight were individual stories of people who are faced with difficult situations, but in terms of looking at the city as a whole, there was not a convincing case tonight presented that there is an urgency or an emergency occurring in the city of Burbank,” Gabel-Luddy said.
Vice Mayor Sharon Springer said the new state legislation, let alone a similar ordinance adopted by the city, is not fair to responsible landlords, especially so-called mom-and-pop property owners who own small-unit apartment buildings, such as duplexes or triplexes.
She added that she felt sympathy for the affected renters, but she said AB 1482 will burden landlords more than tenants.
“Landlords [have not been] greedy since the beginning of time,” Springer said.
Tom Flavin, chief executive of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, said having a city ordinance barring no-fault evictions would discourage investments in housing and would become an obstacle for the city’s goal of constructing 12,000 housing units in the next 15 years.
“We urge you tonight to note and file the staff report, let the state law take effect, then evaluate its impact and protect Burbank’s local control rights,” Flavin said during the council meeting.
Paul Herman, a board member of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, said such an ordinance was “a complete waste of the council’s time and city resources.”
Herman added, “It seeks to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. There is no evidence of a widespread issuance of no-fault eviction notices by landlords due to the passage of [AB] 1482 here in Burbank.”
Councilmen Tim Murphy and Jess Talamantes were the council members who thought the city should do something to provide temporary protection for local residents who rent.
Murphy said he received about 50 emails from concerned residents regarding no-fault evictions since the last council meeting.
He added that while he is also concerned about mom-and-pop property owners, there needs to be a balance.
“Someone’s going to get hurt,” he said. “I think it’s an emergency.”
Talamantes said he didn’t view the interim ordinance as a gateway for the city to implementing some type of rent control.
“If it’s affecting you, it’s an emergency. That’s what it comes down to,” Talamantes said. “All I’m trying to do is help our residents. Whether you agree with me or not, that’s what I’m trying to do.”