South Bay cities enact rent control after double-digit rate hikes

Maywood follows Bell Gardens and Cudahy to cap prices for working-class residents

South Bay Cities Enact Rent Control After Rate Hikes
Maywood Councilman Eduardo De La Riva and the City of Maywood and Cudahy (City of Maywood, Google Maps, Getty)

Three “gateway cities” in the South Bay have passed rent control ordinances after landlords started jacking up rents.

The City of Maywood approved a rent control ordinance, following the lead of nearby Bell Gardens and Cudahy, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Maywood’s rent control will limit rent increases to 4 percent, and begins next month when a temporary rent freeze ends. The Bell Gardens rent cap is the same, while Cudahy’s is 3 percent.

The three small cities along the Los Angeles River are largely made up of Latino and immigrant workers in manufacturing, food and other service jobs. 

Some landlords had hiked rents in the once-affordable neighborhoods beyond the 5 percent cap allowed by the state, according to the Times. One landlord increased the rent of a one-bedroom apartment from $840 a month to $1,650 by next spring.

With double-digit rent increases and renters making up more than  73 percent of Maywood,  79 percent of Bell Gardens and 86 percent of Cudahy, city leaders said it was time to act. The dense cities can’t depend on housing construction alone to keep homes affordable, officials say.

“It’s a tool to preserve our community,” Maywood Councilman Eduardo de la Riva told the Times.

Proponents of rent control say that under the state Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, local governments can enact rent control on buildings constructed before 1995.

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But opponents say that developers are loath to build in areas with rent control on the books. Thus more rent control will hinder affordability by deterring new housing development and leading landlords to pull rental homes from the market.

“You’re disincentivizing new developments to go in, but in addition, you’re also causing existing unit supply to shrink,” Jim Lapides of the National Multifamily Housing Council, an apartment industry trade group, said. “It’s counterproductive.

“It actually ends up accelerating the very problem that [it] attempts to solve.”

Daniel Yukelson, of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, said mom-and-pop  landlords can’t keep up with the rising costs of water, waste and insurance unless they raise rents. He said rent control will push small landlords out of the market, to be replaced by corporate landlords who renovate the units and lease them out at higher prices

Alexander Ferrer, a UCLA graduate student who wrote a report about the corporatization of housing for the nonprofit Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, said that corporate landlords are more profit-driven, charge higher rates and are faster to evict.

Pasadena voters passed a rent control measure in November, which survived a constitutional  challenge by the California Apartment Association.

A measure to further tighten rent control across the state will appear on the November 2024 California ballot.

— Dana Bartholomew

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