Signature Effort to Repeal ‘Rushed’ Santa Ana Rent Control Ordinance Ends

By Drew Van Voorhis
Drew Van Voorhis
Drew Van Voorhis
Drew Van Voorhis is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. He has been a journalist for four years, during which time he has broken several viral national news stories and has been interviewed for his work on both radio and internet shows.
November 23, 2021 Updated: November 23, 2021

The effort to repeal a new rent control ordinance in Santa Ana has officially ended without any signatures being submitted, the Santa Ana for Fair and Equitable Housing (SAFE Housing) announced Nov. 22.

After the Santa Ana City Council passed Orange County’s first rent control ordinance on Oct. 19, SAFE Housing attempted to gather signatures to launch a ballot initiative that would allow residents to reevaluate and vote on the matter.

“We believed in the democratic process of letting Santa Ana voters make an informed decision about the policy that the city council passed in the middle of the night,” said Victor Cao, a spokesperson for SAFE Housing. “However, we have ended our effort and will not be submitting signatures that we have gathered.”

The organization didn’t specify why the signatures weren’t submitted.

The ordinance, which took effect on Nov. 19, restricts landlords from raising the rent by more than 3 percent per year or 80 percent of the inflation rate, whichever is lowest.

The city law goes much further than the state law on rent control, which caps rent increases to no more than 10 percent annually.

In addition, the ordinance prohibits evictions of households with students during the school year, requires the District Attorney’s prosecution for an individual to be evicted for criminal activity, and mandates higher relocation assistant payments to evicted households.

Cao described the ordinance as “an extreme policy” since “it will result in less affordable housing for the people who need it the most and sends a strong signal to housing developers not to build in Santa Ana.”

The ordinance was passed 4–3, with dissenting councilmembers saying it will not truly solve housing affordability problems.

Petitioners would have needed to collect around 12,500 signatures, or 10 percent of Santa Ana’s registered voters, by the Nov. 22 deadline.

To be exempted from the ordinance, landlords need to provide evidence that “a rate increase in excess of the annual allowance is necessary to provide a fair and reasonable return for their property,” according to the city’s Oct. 20 statement.

The rent increase cap also doesn’t apply to residential buildings constructed after Feb. 1, 1995, or to mobile home spaces offered for rent after Jan. 1, 1990.

A SAFE Housing spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Drew Van Voorhis is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. He has been a journalist for four years, during which time he has broken several viral national news stories and has been interviewed for his work on both radio and internet shows.