Glendale mayor now says he supports rent control

Glendale mayor Zareh Sinanyan announced his support for rent control during a council meeting on Tuesday, unexpectedly reversing his previous position during the last election cycle opposing it.

“What prompted it is just the dire nature of the situation,” Sinanyan said in a follow-up interview. “Rents are out of control, going up, and there appears to be no let-up in the rate at which they’re growing.”

City staff is now preparing a report on the issue, as per the council’s request. A vote on whether to implement rent control could come before the council as soon as the end of next month, Sinanyan said.

At the meeting, Sinanyan said he previously thought the market would solve the problem on its own — but it didn’t.

“Now, we have to interfere,” he said after the meeting.

The mayor’s comments came after Councilman Vrej Agajanian said he wondered why Glendale couldn’t implement a rent-increase cap of around 5%.

Agajanian referenced a measure passed by L.A. County Supervisors one week prior that will freeze rent hikes for six months at 3% per year in the county’s unincorporated areas.

“I wonder why we are not, or cannot, do something similar,” he said.

“It is a sad fact that longtime Glendale residents who have given their heart and soul to their beloved city are leaving Glendale with great sadness due to the high cost of housing,” Agajanian said during the meeting. “We need to do something — and we need to do something now to remedy the situation.”

Also, Agajanian suggested the council allocate around $100 million to build affordable housing.

The news appeared to surprise members of the Glendale Tenants Union, who support rent control and have been attending recent council meetings in droves to demand action.

After commending the council members, union member Hayk Makhmuryan posed a firm recommendation during the public-comment portion of the meeting.

“It cannot be [just] any rent control ordinance,” he said. “It must be a strong one.”

According to Makhmuryan, the union wants to limit annual rent increases to a maximum of 4%, in addition to an immediate rent cap akin to what the county supervisors implemented.

The union has twice failed to collect enough signatures to place a proposed rent-increase-limiting measure for Glendale on a local ballot. If the council does not vote on rent control, Sinanyan said it could go on the next ballot.

At the previous council meeting, Mayor Pro-tem Paula Devine said she wanted to see how the temporary rent freeze worked in the unincorporated areas and whether it seemed like a viable option for Glendale.

Currently, under a 1995 state law known as Costa-Hawkins, city officials are limited regarding the types of rent-control policies they can implement.

A proposal to repeal Costa-Hawkins is headed to California voters on the state’s upcoming November ballot.

Twitter: @lila_seidman