Renters, Landlords Address Housing Issues at Key Meeting


It was described as “fruitful and informative” by South Pasadena’s mayor as more than 100 people, some expressing their viewpoint on the topic, packed the South Pasadena Library community room early last week for a City Council Ad Hoc Rent Stabilization Committee meeting.

Serving on the Ad Hoc committee are Michael Cacciotti, South Pasadena’s mayor, and Council member Dr. Marina Khubesrian, who are carefully weighing the options, if any, for the city entertaining the idea of rent control in the future.

Cacciotti stressed that he and other council members were in attendance at the Monday, March 20, in “a listening mode” as representatives from both sides of the aisle -– those in favor of rent control and those opposed, were given an opportunity to be heard.

“By the showing of the attendance (nearly 100 people) we know that this is a very important topic in our city,” said South Pasadena City Manager Sergio Gonzalez. “Over 50 percent of the people who live in South Pasadena rent. That’s part of the fabric of our city – those who rent and people who live in homes worth a couple of a million dollars. We have a great representation of all walks of life in our city.”

The issue came to the forefront of the City Council last fall when a group of Amberwood Terrace apartment residents became angered by sharp rent increases, some facing hikes as much $600 monthly. The South Pasadena’s Ad Hoc committee was praised by some at last week’s meeting for its efforts to sit down with Amberwood ownership, a group of tenants and, at least for the short term, come to amicable terms.

Chris Castruita serves as the staff liaison to the Ad Hoc Rent Stabilization Committee, which was formed in November. Leading last week’s discussion in the community room, he explained that the Ad Hoc Committee was established to conduct a comprehensive assessment of rising rents and their effects on the entire community. He pointed out on the City of South Pasadena website that the committee “is working with city staff to research the legal, fiscal, and policy aspects of potential legislation, with the goal of developing a recommendation for the full City Council to consider later this year.”

According to new research from NBC News Los Angeles, the average rent in Los Angeles County is just over $2,200 per month. Station officials say the average rent in Orange County is $2,000 and in the Inland Empire rents topped the $1,500 mark as a shortage of available housing in California continues to shrink.

While it appeared there were more landlords than renters in the crowd at last week’s meeting, it was a chance to be heard, depending if you’re pushing for rent control or a property owner raising the cost of apartments for those living in them.

“A lot of people are not able to keep up with living expenses, and then you have the issue of those owning property who feel like they’ve been responsible landlords and haven’t raised the rents significantly, wanting to keep their tenants,” explained Gonzalez, noting it can be a struggle to please both landlords and renters.

Castruita said the Ad Hoc Committee will compile and review input received from last week’s meeting and provide an update to the City Council within the coming months. The entire council is expected to address the rental issue in the city, including the potential for rent control, at a later date.



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