Are there rent control or just cause for eviction laws in the City of Santa Cruz? In this short post, we discuss the succession of events related to rent control and just cause for eviction laws in the City of Santa Cruz after the November elections. We answer the question above and help you understand what is being proposed, and where the City Government is in the legislative process.
As a reminder, voters rejected Measure M, a measure that would create rent control and just cause for eviction laws in the City of Santa Cruz. Since that time, Santa Cruz City Council, which now includes three new members, has been working to find the right balance of increasing renter’s protections without dis-incentivizing the maintenance of existing rentals and creation of new rentals in the city.
Just Cause for Eviction Tabled. Introduction of Santa Cruz City Rental Task Force
On Tuesday, January 8th, 2019 the Santa Cruz City Council, voted to push an “interim” Just Cause for Eviction ordinance to the next round of voting. However, during the second meeting held on January 23rd, the City Council elected to postpone moving forward with the ordinance due to a large amount of community feedback (over 1000 letters) opposing the measure. Having originally voted “yes” on the ordinance, vice Mayor Justin Cummings proposed tabling the initiative and giving both Staff and community members time to rework the proposal. “I just want to put that out there, because if members of our community are very concerned and want to work on kind of coming together to think about what we can craft as a whole that is going to help our community, I would very much encourage members from MHJ, the Movement for Housing Justice, and Santa Cruz Together, to come together and work with members of the City Council and work on something that will actually help our community,” said Cummings. To read more about that meeting, take a look at this article from the Santa Cruz Sentinel. There is now a process underway to establish a Rental Housing Task Force, the scope and mission of which is still in formation. You can read more about the Task Force below.
Ordinance Amendment Passed: Tenant Relocation Assistance for Large Rent Increases
At the January 8th meeting mentioned above, the City Council voted a second and final time to approve amendments to the Relocation Assistance For Displaced Tenants ordinance. Under the ordinance amendment, if a landlord raises the rent more than 5% in one year or cumulatively more than 7% in any two consecutive years, resulting in a tenant leaving due to inability to pay the higher rent, the tenant will be eligible for two months’ fair market value rent as posted by HUD or the tenant’s actual rent, whichever is higher. You can see a redlined version of the ordinance here to see what has changed. A very important note about this amendment: the Council states that this is not technically rent control, therefore it applies to all rental property including single-family homes, condos, and townhomes.
Where We Are Now: Creating The Santa Cruz City Rental Task Force
On February 12th, the Santa Cruz City Council voted to enter into a sole source contract with the Sacramento State Consensus and Collaboration Program (CCP) for background and scoping services to support the City in creating a Rental Housing task force. Santa Cruz City staff also proposed the following mission statement for the group:
“The Rental Housing Task Force will utilize a data driven approach to policy development, with the aim of developing policy proposals that address the needs of both tenants and property owners.”
CCP is a not-for-profit, fee for service unit of Sacramento State’s College of Continuing Education. Formed in 1992 (as the Center for Collaborative Policy), CCP is a neutral third party organization with a mission to “Build the capacity of public agencies, stakeholder groups, and the public to use collaborative strategies to improve policy outcomes”.
According to a Description of Services that was included with supporting materials for the February 12th meeting, the CPP’s services will include a seven step process to research the current issue at hand, and help establish a Task Force:
- Background Research
- Stakeholder Identification
- Prepare an Interview Questionnaire to be used consistently in each stakeholder interview.
- Stakeholder Invitation to inform and invite stakeholders to participate in the interview process.
- Schedule and Conduct interviews with Stakeholders
- Prepare an Outcomes and Recommendations Report
- Prepare a Final Workplace and Convening Approach [For the Task Force].