After a morning of pleas, sometimes teary, made for and against a proposed interim rent freeze, Supervisor Kathryn Barger cast the lone vote opposing the measure.
In the end, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved 4-1 a motion to come up with an interim rent-freeze ordinance that would limit rent increases to 3 percent annually.
The ordinance — which the board expects to see defined in 60 days — would apply to all unincorporated areas of the county, including those in the Santa Clarita Valley, except for properties exempt from rent control.
It would place a temporary limit on rent level increases and on evictions without just cause.
But, the motion didn’t sit right for Barger, who represents District 5, which includes the SCV.
“I understand the concerns about high rents in Los Angeles County, but I’m also concerned about the impact of rent control on our local economy,” she said.
“We have had minimal discussion regarding housing stock and the cost of burdensome regulations and zoning conditions that all affect housing affordability.
“The proposed rent control ordinance is not targeted, thus potentially benefiting high wage earners more than those whom the proponents claim to help, such as seniors and the chronically homeless.
“Without further study and consideration of the unintended consequences of rent control on the economy of our local communities, I cannot support the ordinance.”
And, while many of the more than 80 speakers who lined up at the podium Tuesday for a chance to share their views on the proposed rent freeze shared Barger’s view, many said a rent freeze would keep them from being homeless.
In explaining her motion, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said: “The homeless are there because of economic issues.
“People are looking to the county, saying ‘What are you doing about the homeless problem?’ With the county counted on to catch them as they jump — or are pushed — off the bridge.
“This motion recognizes that there is something we can do on the bridge to keep them from falling off or being pushed off,” she said.
Kuehl cited an “alarming” statistic that ended up being quoted at least three times during Tuesday’s public discussion: a 22-percent increase in the number of seniors joining the ranks of the homeless between 2017-18.
“Elderly people are on a fixed income, so if rents are raised, they’re stuck,” she said.
“The more we see elderly people on the street, the more ashamed we should be,” she added.
Many who took the podium agreed with her.
Maria Brenes, executive director of InnerCity Struggle representing residents in East L.A., said: “Our community is rich in culture.
“And, our greatest asset is our young people,” she said. “And these young people are in families many of which are vulnerable to rising rents.
“The residents of East L.A. are at risk, with many working more than one job just to pay the rent,” she said.
When Barger offered to amend the motion, none of her fellow supervisors supported the effort.
Opposing the suggestion of a rent freeze were many “mom-and-pop landlords.”
One such landlord, Amand Freeman, said: “This motion is going to disincentivize mom-and-pop landlords.”
“The concerns you’re hearing today are real, but rent control is not the answer.”
”Rent control,” said Beverly Kenworthy, of the California Apartment Association, “is not the same as affordable housing.”