Rent Control and Just Cause for Eviction passed by Richmond City Council: First CA city to adopt in 30+ years
By Richmond City Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin.
On August 5, 2015, Richmond, CA, a diverse city in the San Francisco Bay Area, successfully adopted a Rent Control and Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance. The passing of this measure was historic, as Richmond became the first California city in over 30 years to pass such an ordinance. As a result, many renters in the city will be protected against skyrocketing rents and unjust evictions.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, rising housing costs have already caused too much pain and suffering as low-income residents have been forced out of their homes unable to pay rents that have gone through the ceiling. One cannot help but wonder if, in the coming years, the region will become a geographic area where only affluent residents can live. And…what is happening in the Bay Area is also happening to one extent or another in other areas of the country. This is a nationwide housing crisis which must be addressed at all levels of government.
In Richmond, we have seen the beginnings of such displacement, and we want make sure that we retain our diversity in terms of race, culture, as well as income diversity, to the greatest extent possible amid this housing crisis. It became clear that we are facing a critical situation in need of immediate addressing.
That is why a coalition of community groups joined together to advocate for adoption of this measure. Forming a coalition was key to the success of this effort, and the Richmond Coalition for Fair Rent and Just Cause exhibited undaunted advocacy, hard work, and social justice commitment on behalf of the many struggling renters in Richmond in the face of organized opposition from apartment owners and realty associations.
Four (4) Richmond City Councilmembers (McLaughlin, Beckles, Martinez and Myrick) formed the majority vote for adoption of this ordinance. Through this vote, we demonstrated our resolve to use our regulatory authority as a city to address the current reality of housing injustice, while simultaneously allowing for reasonable annual rent increases for landlords.
The ordinance will go into full effect September 4th, 2015. At that time rents will roll back to the amount charged on July 21st, 2015 and tenants will not be able to be evicted without a “just cause.” In rent controlled units, the allowed annual increase will be 100% of the percentage increase of the Consumer Price Index. Tenants Together, California’s Statewide Organization for Renters’ Rights, has put together a fact sheet that provides more information on the ordinance (http://files.ctctcdn.com/aeaee78d001/0f1ffbf5-fcb7-425e-804e-99bb3bffecea.pdf).
It is important to note that this is but one tool in our toolbox for addressing the housing crisis and economic needs of our community. We need to build more affordable housing, bring in more jobs and job training, enhance education, and increase wages so that low to middle income people can truly make ends meet. While passing this ordinance is an important victory, we have much more work to do.
However, we are making it clear through passage of this Rent Control and Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance that stability – something every human being deserves – is worth preserving in Richmond. And we are hopeful that other cities will follow suit and stand strong, as we are doing, to protect their hard-working communities.
Gayle McLaughlin is the former mayor and current council member of the City of Richmond.