As COVID-19 cases surge to record heights across the nation and unemployment claims continue to rise, City Council voted last night to preserve current rent control and tenant protections, at least until the end of October.
In a 4-1 vote, Council approved to extend the Interim Rent Control Ordinance until October 31, 2020. Mayor Goran Eriksson was the only one opposed.
“I’m going to be consistent and I’m not going to vote to extend something I didn’t believe in from the beginning,” Eriksson said in a discussion before the vote.
The extension is a result in part of the sweeping effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to language from the new ordinance to extend IRCO, “during this unprecedent [sic] time, it remains critical that tenants are not faced with excessive rent increases or no fault evictions without some type of financial assistance for relocation.”
Over 30 people submitted speaker cards, calling in from their homes around the city to protest or support the furthering of the measure.
“These protections would create an equitable playing field,” said Freddy Puza, a Fox Hills resident currently running for City Council on the November ballot, voicing his support.
“We need to reconcile with our history as a sundown town,” he continued. “Stable housing is one of the key factors in creating healthy and vibrant cities.”
Speakers from both sides of the issue – including members of both Protect Culver City Renters and the political action committee Protect Culver City – cited a rise in crime as a potential consequence of not following through on their respective positions.
One resident, Eric Metz, said he has owned a home in Culver City for over 12 years. He is spending over $500,000 to install an ADU, which according to him, will help his family financially. The only problem? Under IRCO, evicting a tenant could cost him $9,000.
“We want to make sure there is no rent control because what will happen, we’ll have higher rates for rents in order to offset these potential future issues,” he said.
According to the measure, a payment of three times the monthly rent plus $1,000 would be required for a no-fault eviction. For example, if a landlord wanted to vacate a unit in order to move a family member in.
City staff will prepare a draft ordinance and present it to Council in September based on last night’s recommendations.
“This ordinance is about protecting the small landlord as much as it is about protecting the tenant. Those two go right together,” Councilmember Thomas Small said.