Santa Ana Passes Rent Control Law

By Vanessa Serna
Vanessa Serna
Vanessa Serna
Vanessa Serna is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times.
October 21, 2021 Updated: October 21, 2021

The City of Santa Ana became the first in Orange County to pass a rent control ordinance on Oct. 19 after weeks of heated council meeting debates.

The motion, passing 4–3 shortly before midnight on Tuesday, prevents landlords from raising rent more than 3 percent annually, or 80 percent of the change in the consumer price index, whichever is less.

Mayor Vicente Sarmiento and Councilmembers Jessie Lopez, Thai Viet Phan, and Johnathan Ryan Hernandez voted in favor of the motion.

“I support rent control because it’s the one tool we have to protect current residents, longtime residents who have nowhere else to go, but to the Inland Empire, and Riverside,” Phan said during a council meeting.

Officials in favor of the rent control ordinance hope more tenants will stay in their homes without worrying about annual rent hikes, while those opposed say the move could result in negative long-term impacts.

Mayor Pro Tem David Penaloza, and Councilmembers Nelida Mendoza and Phil Bacerra voted against the ordinance.

“Rent is always going to be high, regardless whether we pass this or not, and it’s a serious concern problem to our community,” Penaloza said. “However, I need to make sure, as a member of this legislative body that the decisions we make are sustainable, not just over the next month, not just over the next six months, but over the next 10 [to] 15 years.”

The rent control ordinance was originally intended to combat the expiration of the statewide moratorium on evictions, Bacerra said; however, this approved ordinance provides no such assurance.

“What’s disappointing is that numerous residents came before the council with the false belief that this proposed policy is going to stop evictions,” Bacerra said during the meeting.

“This policy, again, is not going to, so shame on those who’ve led folks to believe that was gonna happen. They provided them with false promises and false hopes.”

While his colleagues believe rent control will best assist the residents of Santa Ana, Penaloza does not foresee the rent crisis lessening.

“It’s a problem that’s never going to go away,” Penaloza said during a council meeting.

Mendoza proceeded to warn the council and residents of the potential impacts of rent control, including a shortage of affordable housing, which could force many out of the city.

She further explained rent control to be an expensive tool for the city, as a board would need to be formed.

The city’s rent control law goes into effect on Dec. 19.

Vanessa Serna is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times.