Rent Control Defeated in the City of Westminster
In the face of an overflow crowd that formed outside the Westminster City Hall in Orange County, the City Council rejected proposals to adopt rent control. This came after an August 14, 2019 meeting that featured eight hours of testimony from over 100 speakers.
The Council received a report from its staff which highlighted the administrative and legal risks of adopting rent control.
The report detailed in length that there are significant up-front and ongoing costs to administrating a rent control program that is very expensive and time sensitive to balance the rights of the land owners the City would be seeking to protect.
These costs which are substantial include upfront staff resources to draft and do community outreach regarding the program which usually includes hiring additional staff. Studies are usually conducted to establish the legal justification and application of the program.
Costs also include ongoing staff resources to monitor and administer the program, the costs of commission or hearing officers to handle requests and disputes. The report also included the costs to the City of liability exposure where there is a constant risk of litigation on each decision that is made which is an evolving area of the law.
Victor Cao, the California Apartment Association’s vice president of public affairs in Orange County, provided testimony about the many problems with rent control, including its negative effects on the availability of housing supply.
“In 2018, Westminster residents turned out in record numbers and voted against Proposition 10 (rent control) by 61 percent,” Cao says. “It is abundantly clear there is a mandate by voters that they oppose rent control. Rather than entertain failed policy ideas, the city can continue to focus on credible solutions for providing housing opportunity.”
This rebuke of rent control in Westminster is an exception to the trend in the recent growth of rent control in California. Municipalities that have placed limitations on landlords in California include Los Angeles City and County, Inglewood, Santa Monica, Culver City, Glendale, Long Beach, Pasadena, Culver City and Sacramento.
Westminster has 5,470 rental properties with more than five units.
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Filed under: Landlord Legal Issues