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Group Pushes For More SoCal Rent Control

A tenants rights advocacy group is pushing for a local rent-control measure in Santa Ana

Tenants United Santa Ana, a coalition of residents and local community groups, is canvassing in an effort to gather 11,000 signatures before June to have the rent-control proposal put on the ballot.

A billboard paid for by Housing Is A Human RIght, which is pushing for stricter rent control in California.

If passed, the proposed ordinance would cap the amount landlords could hike rent to 3% annually, limit the number of times a landlord could increase rent in a single year, credit tenants back any rent increase above 3% since November 2017, and protect students and teachers from being evicted without just cause during the school year.

Additionally, a renter could not be evicted without just cause. The measure would cover only apartment buildings and mobile homes built before 1995. 

This is the second time in as many years organizers have tried to get rent control on the city's ballot. In 2018, the group failed to get the required number of signatures

"After 2018, we have been asking the city council for tenant protection and rent control because we were seeing families being displaced," Tenants United Santa Ana organizer Kayleigh Levitt said through an interpreter during a press conference last week. 

The group needs to collect 11,000 signatures by June 1 to qualify for the ballot in the local election in November, according to reports.

The rent-control ballot measure comes a few months after California's rent cap law came into effect. Under AB 1482, landlords and owners of apartment buildings 15 years and older can only hike rent 5% plus inflation a year and need "just cause" to evict a tenant.

But Tenants United officials say that measure doesn't go far enough. 

In Santa Ana, more than 56% of the city's 334,000 residents are renters, according to Tenants United Santa Ana. Of the 56% of renters, 64% are rent-burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on rent. Another 31% spend more than 50% of their income on rent.

According to apartment data site Rent Jungle, rent for an apartment in Santa Ana has increased 52% from Jan. 1, 2011, to Jan. 1, 2020.    

Levitt said last time around they were only 500 signatures short of getting the rent-control measure on the ballot. This time, Levitt said, they are more prepared and getting the community involved early.