Santa Ana to Impose Rent Control on Landlords

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

Landlords in Santa Ana may face rent increase restrictions as the city council votes Sept. 21 on whether to impose limits amid an affordable housing dilemma.

According to Councilmember Phil Bacerra, members of the council proposed an eviction ordinance motivated to assist tenants as the eviction moratorium ends on Sept. 30. With landlords being unable to increase rent as inflation occurs, Bacerra stated the ordinance would impact the value of housing in the city.

“It’s going to impact the landlord’s ability to provide dignified quality housing, because the more and more you eat away at the rent that they’re collecting, the less opportunity and less resources they have to put back into the unit to make sure they are clean, safe, and high quality,” Bacerra told The Epoch Times.

If passed, the ordinance would prohibit landlords from raising the rent on properties by 3 percent annually or 80 percent of the changes in the consumer price index, whichever is less.

Epoch Times Photo
An apartment building in Santa Ana, Calif., on Sept. 20, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

While the ordinance was created to assist the residents of Santa Ana, the larger community of landlords in Santa Ana are small-scale landlords and not large corporations. The smaller landlords in the city rely on rent for their livelihood, Bacerra said.

“There’s a lot of mom-and-pop landlords that never were asked what their thoughts were about this proposed idea,” he said. “They are decent, hardworking people who will possibly retire, utilizing this revenue from this property, and you’ve got folks on the city council that are eating into their retirement, eating into their ability to continue to provide dignified quality housing for tenants.”

If passed on Tuesday evening, the proposed agenda item would become effective immediately. However, Bacerra urges this is not the only way to assist tenants as the moratorium ends at the end of the month.

As the council attempts to pass the ordinance, the city continues to sit on millions of dollars collected through emergency rental assistance funds and additionally through the state. In total, Santa Ana collected $42 million and has only expended $6.9 million.

“One thing to take note of is that the city of Santa Ana is sitting on a pretty large amount of rental assistance funds, and those rental assistance funds could go a long way to helping folks in preventing evictions or displacement,” he said.

“We have money that should be expended, and it hasn’t been. That money could buy us time, as a collective council to possibly come up with legislation that can help these vulnerable renters, but instead, there’s been an intention to go down a particular policy route.”

Bacerra credits the lack of allocation of funds due to incomplete applications and denial of applications.

Some members of the city council foresee the rent control solution to support tenants, but as some rents freeze or increase minimally over time, the remaining units will skyrocket creating a further income inequality, Bacerra said.

To pass, the ordinance will need five affirmative votes on Sept. 21.

The other six members on council were not immediately available for comment by press deadline.

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