LA County supervisors block renter protection extensions

Board listens to “mom and pop” landlords before voting down eviction and rent resolutions

County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors' Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger; Los Angeles County
County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors' Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger (County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, Getty)

Los Angeles County supervisors have voted against measures calling for a rent protection extension and rent control in unincorporated areas.

The Board of Supervisors voted not to support a resolution to extend certain residential tenant protections for one year throughout the county, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

In a 2-2 vote with one abstention, measures failed to pass that would bar landlords from evicting tenants without just cause as well as protect tenants from eviction who have added extra occupants and/or pets during the coronavirus pandemic.

Another measure failed that would have capped rent increases at 3 percent, or the year-over-year change in the local Consumer Price Index, whichever is lower. It also would have prevented the imposition of pass-throughs or other fees.

Supervisors Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger prevailed in voting against the measures, while Supervisor Holly Mitchell abstained. Supervisors Hilda Solis and Lindsey Horvath voted in favor, but failed to get a majority.

Hahn said extended protections for renters was fine a year ago, but with unemployment low and the COVID-19 pandemic abated, this was not the right time to impose more emergency regulations on the 88 cities in the county.

It also wasn’t the time, she said, to place restrictions on landlords in unincorporated areas.

“At this point, I feel like for me, it feels like an overreach now to impose these on the incorporated cities,” Hahn said. Instead, she said the county would help any city craft a local ordinance.

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Many tenants, who said they are being evicted or face higher rents, joined renter rights groups in speaking in favor of the failed resolutions. Some were concerned an eviction wave would start after March 31, when the county ends the COVID-19 emergency.

The intent of the board resolution was to prevent more people from becoming homeless. 

“We are in a declared state of emergency on homelessness,” Horvath, a co-author of the failed resolution, told the Daily News. “The most important thing we can do to stop the tide of homelessness is to help those people to afford the homes they are in.”

The board heard from more than 20 “mom and pop” landlords, as well as apartment owner trade groups, who said the measures would have placed undue burdens on landlords, who face rising costs from utility rate hikes and other expenses.

Fred Sutton, vice president of public affairs for The California Apartment Association, said the resolution was confusing and would have taken away cities’ local control. “Cities can make these decisions on their own,” he told the board.

Matt Buck, also from the California Apartment Association, said the state has already ended the COVID-19 emergency. “The rhetoric about a wave of evictions have failed to materialize,” he said.

A watered-down version that was approved by the board asks the county director of consumer and business affairs and the chief executive officer to be available to work with cities in crafting ordinances. 

— Dana Bartholomew

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