|(July 22, 2019, 8:30 a.m.) -- Barely six weeks after a then-City Council majority (6-3) enacted a politically polarizing "Tenant Relocation Ordinance" with state Senator-elect Lena Gonzalez voting "yes" on her final Council day, four Council incumbents -- two of whom voted for the measure as originally enacted -- have agendized an item to revise parts of it.
With the 1st district Council seat now vacant, Councilman Al Austin (who voted for the original ordinance but signaled his openness to consider future changes) and Rex Richardson (likewise supported original ordinance), joined by Councilmembers Daryl Supernaw and Stacy Mungo (who voted against the original measure, have agendized an item proposing five changes, one of which would create a procedure letting landlords avoid an out-of-pocket payment of two-months rent to tenants who may choose to leave rather than pay a rent increase exceeding 10% annually.
In their agendizing memo visible here the four co-agendizers include the following:
...Allow for an Extended 180-Day Noticing Option
That's the most sweeping proposed change. Another change would exempt from the ordinance property owners of up to two properties of four units or less (instead of exempting only owners of only one property of four units or less.) Another change would make clear an exemption for owners of condomiums.
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The co-agendizers write that the modifications "are proposed to assist with the efficient implementation fo the Tenant Relocation Ordinance and provide additional clarity to the adopted ordinance. These modifications come from both tenant advocates and property owners, to recognize issues raised by both sides and attempt to achieve a consensus on this important issue."
As currently enacted, effective August 1, the Tenant Relocation Ordinance will require owners of four plexes and above to pay tenants of over one year, who haven't engaged in actions deemed evictable, sums of from $2,700 to $4,500 if they choose to leave/relocate rather than pay a rent increase of over 10%.
Enactment of the ordinance was a hard fought victory for Housing Long Beach, Long Beach Forward and LiBRE whose supporters indicated their intentionto seek further measures including more affordable housing (rental units below market rate subsidized by other tenants, or government, or both.) At the same time, a number of property owners viewed the Council majority with Mayor Garcia's supportive words as a disorienting betrayal and moved swiftly to try to undo at least part of what was done.
As LBREPORT.com noted in reporting the Council voted action in June, two Councilmembers on opposite sides of the vote signaled a possible future effort to change at least some portion(s) of the ordinance.
Councilman Al Austin, who voted to support the ordinance, said during Council discussion that it was "acknowledged this is an imperfect policy and it still needs work and I look forward to making it an even better that protects tenants and gives them that flexibility." >Councilwoman Suzie Price voted against the ordinance voicing concern over what she called its "just cause eviction" provisions and said she looks forward to "bringing this item back, or having somebody bring it back and so that we can make those modifications which I do believe is in the works and I will happily and proudly support the modifications made at that time."
On July 23, if Price casts a decisional fifth vote to revise the ordinance, only Mayor Robert Garcia's veto could prevent the revisions (unless Pearce or Andrews or Uranga acquiesce in the changes.)
The response of tenants-rights groups to the proposed revisions isn't yet clear, but what is taking place occurs in a highly charged political context with a November special election coming to fill the 1st district Council seat and the 8th dist Council seat under challenge in March 2020.
In the 1st district, affordable-housing advocate Mary Zendejas -- aligned with an advocacy group that supported an attempted LB rent control petition initiative -- is endorsed by former 1st dist. Councilwoman Gonzalez and Mayor Garcia. She faces multiple challengers in a no-runoff/winner-take-all November 2019
In the 8th district, Council incumbent Austin is seeking a third-term against a March 2020 challenge from Juan Ovalle (co-founded community advocacy group People of Long Beach that opposed Mayor/Council sought Charter Amendment BBB that lets Austin and other incumbents seek third terms without a write-in) and Tunua Thrash-Ntuk (spouse of LBCC Trustee Uduak-Joe Ntuk.)
Depending on how the Council proceedings and Council votes goes on July 23, revisions to the ordinance may or may not become an issue in the 1st and 8th district races.
And while these events take place in Long Beach, up in Sacramento state lawmakers -- including now-state Senator Gonzalez -- are advancing a bill that would impose a statewide annual rent increase cap and (as recently amended) includes an explicit "just cause eviction" requirement along with landlord payment of a tenant relocation sum. LBREPORT.com coverage here.. Senator Gonzalez voted for the bill as now amended in a Senate committee.
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