Supes pass temporary rent control ordinance for unincorporated areas like Castaic, Stevenson Ranch

Los Angeles County Seal.

Although California voters rejected rent control on the Nov. 6 ballot, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved Tuesday a moratorium on rent increases for unincorporated areas like Stevenson Ranch and Castaic.

The 4-1 vote favors an ordinance meant to retroactively limit rent hikes for 180 days from its start date of Sept. 11, when a majority of the board first voted in support of limiting rent hikes.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose jurisdiction includes the Santa Clarita Valley, cast the dissenting vote against the interim ordinance.

“Concerns about high rents in Los Angeles must be balanced by the unintended consequences of rent control — which may actually result in reduced housing stock and a negative impact to individual property owners and local economies in communities throughout the county,” Barger spokesman Tony Bell said in a statement Friday.

This comes after Prop. 10 failed, which would have given local governments the ability to expand rent control.

The county’s interim rent stabilization ordinance limits rent increases to 3 percent in the unincorporated areas of the county, where the moratorium is only applied. Single-family homes or rental units built after 1995 — when the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act went into effect— will not be affected.

According to county documents, a residential property owner may only evict a tenant under the circumstances like non-payment of rent, breach of material lease terms or using the residence for an unlawful purpose.

Violations of the 3-percent annual cap on rent increases may be subject to an administrative fine of up to $1,000 each under the rent control moratorium.
Nancy Starczyk, a board member of the Southland Regional Association of Realtors, said the ordinance affects the 5th District, an area including the SCV which Barger represents, the most — as it includes multiple communities such as Castaic, Stevenson Ranch, Acton and Agua Dulce.

“The good thing is that most of the areas in District 5 that are unincorporated, they don’t have a lot of apartments,” she said. “My concern is that it may bleed into other cities that don’t have rent control.”

Starczyk said some of the unintended consequences include buildings converted to condominiums or short-term rentals to avoid rent control, landlords could sell off and move to areas with no rent control and landlords could defer repairs and maintenance, causing tenants to bear the costs.

But Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who brought the motion in September while county officials considered permanent rent stabilization, said the ordinance would help address the homelessness crisis, and that about 200,000 renters would be protected.

“If we want to stem the tide of people falling into homelessness and be sure our seniors, as well as other renters, are protected from eviction, we have to curb unrestricted growth in rents,” Kuehl said.

Tuesday’s decision adds to the county’s efforts to reduce homelessness through “dozens of strategies, including a significant expansion of street outreach, support services for individuals at risk of homelessness, and increased investment in affordable housing,” according to a county news release.

California’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office has said that rent control would likely lower rents, but also reduce new construction and lower property values.

The interim ordinance is expected to go into effect Dec. 20.

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