Culver City Becomes Latest City in Movement to Take on the Housing Crisis With a Vote on a Temporary Rent Freeze
On Monday, June 24, the Protect Culver City Renters Coalition held a press conference in front of Culver City City Hall with other tenants’ rights advocates to show strong support for tenant protections in Culver City and across Los Angeles County.
The press conference was held just prior to the Culver City City Council’s meeting in which City Council members voted 4-1 to move towards a temporary rent freeze on rent increases over 3%, after hours of debate that went into the early hours of the morning. Göran Eriksson was the only “no” vote.
The rent freeze will take effect for one year but will not be implemented until August. The Council will take time to research and vote on the proper language for an ordinance that will comply with specific legal requirements regarding the proper notification to landlords–looking to examples existing in Los Angeles County. The Council will also vote on a possible retroactive date for the temporary freeze.
“This vote has been four years in the making, and is happening because of the continuous hard work of a few who represent many,” said Daniel Lee, Culver City City Council Member and Tenant. “As a tenant myself, I have felt the surge in rents, seen the fear renters have of speaking up, and experienced the devastation it is having on our community, destabilizing homes and pushing people onto the streets.
As elected officials, it is our obligation to take action that protects those who are most vulnerable, which means instituting tenant protections now, starting with a rent freeze.”
The highly anticipated vote came after Culver City first began debating the human costs of rising rents and rent control as a possible solution in 2015. While that debate did not result in a rent stabilization ordinance, it did lead to the election of a city council more supportive of responsible tenant protections.
In an effort to open up the dialogue around the housing crisis and enable renters to share their stories openly, advocates asked for a temporary rent freeze that caps annual rent increases to 3%, as well as just cause eviction protections that will prevent landlords from evicting tenants to skirt the rent caps or intimidate renters.
“The city has welcomed development from large tech corporations without thinking through where these employees will live, nor how the current community will be impacted,” said Katy Krantz, an organizer with the Protect Culver City Renters Coalition.
“While renters and homeowners want the prosperity of new development, it cannot continue to be at the cost of our most vulnerable people, some of whom have lived in our community for decades. In the four years since we began the conversation about our housing crisis, we’ve seen rents continue to rise aggressively.
These rents have caused a staggering increase in homelessness, and it is simply unconscionable for us to look the other way as family after family is pushed out of our community and sometimes onto the streets.”
While over 40% of Culver City residents rent their homes, tenants in Culver City do not have any legal protections, such as those in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, and other nearby towns.
Since 2009, homeowners’ median monthly housing costs have increased only 2%, while renters’ costs have risen by almost 40%. These rising costs aren’t just leading to a loss of Culver City’s racial and economic diversity. It’s leading to homelessness.
At the beginning of this month, Los Angeles County released new data showing a 12% increase in the homeless population across the county, and disaggregated data revealed an even sharper increase within Culver City of over 60%.
In the release of the data, the county pointed to a connection between rising rents and homelessness, which was further confirmed by a recent report by UCLA School of Law and Public Counsel.
“Rising rents and homelessness are not unique to Culver City,” said Pamela Agustin, a tenant leader of the Glendale Tenants Union. All across the county, people are being pushed from their homes because they have little to no protections, but over the last three years, we’ve been building people power.
From Glendale, to Inglewood, to Pomona, more and more tenants are standing up to demand rights that even the playing field between landlords and tenants, and we are winning.”
All across the county, people are being pushed from their homes because they have little to no protections, but over the last three years, we’ve been building people power. From Glendale, to Inglewood, to Pomona, more and more tenants are standing up to demand rights that even the playing field between landlords and tenants, and we are winning.”
On June 11, advocates in Inglewood achieved a major victory when their city council voted to enact rent stabilization with an annual 5% rent cap. While the real estate lobby pushed for higher caps of 8%, tenants turned out in large numbers to offer public testimony on why the caps should be lower, which ultimately won over the board.
“What we’re seeing is that you cannot beat people and the power of organizing,” said Yesenia Miranda Meza, a tenant leader with Pomona United for Stable Housing. “When my neighbors and I faced steep rent increases and were threatened with eviction, we organized, fought back and won the opportunity to stay in our building.
Then we collected nearly 3,000 signatures in favor of rent control and are taking our fight to the ballot box in 2020. What we saw in that first win, was more than a victory for ourselves, it was the possibility for a larger movement of empowered tenants who could use their voices to stabilize communities.”
For questions or to arrange an interview in English or Spanish, please contact Kacey Bonner at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 402-3013.
Update: This article was updated to correct the retroactive date the City Council will vote on.