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    Santa Ana City Council moves to protect city’s rent control and eviction ordinances
    • October 6, 2023

    The City Council is set to make it harder in Santa Ana for future councilmembers to undo rent control and eviction protections that were put in place last year.

    If ratified by a second vote of the council, it will take a supermajority, meaning five votes, of the council to make changes.

    The council has also asked for a ballot measure to be written for the November 2024 election to have voters affirm the need for a supermajority threshold, which would further protect rent stabilization efforts from future council divisions.

    Effective last November, the council adopted a suite of rent stabilization and “just cause” eviction ordinances that cap rent increases at 3% annually or 80% of inflation, whichever is less, as well as limits in which circumstances landlords can evict tenants. For example, the rent cap for the next 12 months was set in September at 2.54%.

    Councilmember Thai Viet Phan has fought for the supermajority threshold over multiple meetings, saying it was important to keep the ordinances from being changed or removed based on changes in the city’s political tides.

    A ballot measure, she said, “is the only way to make sure that whether the political winds change or the dynamics in 10, 20 years … our residents can be assured that they’re not going to be facing a $300, $400 rent increase next month when they’re income is not going to be able to afford it.”

    “This matters to the people who are looking down the barrel of potentially not being able to afford the next rent increase,” she said, pointing to her own experience of needing to borrow money to afford rent. “In talking to residents, I learned more about the fact that folks don’t buy food, they don’t buy their medications because they’re trying to afford rent.”

    City Attorney Sonia Carvalho said if the council were to approve a supermajority vote amendment, a future City Council could repeal it with four votes – a simple majority of its members. However, if voters decide to make the change, then only the voters could repeal it in the future.

    Councilmembers Phil Bacerra and David Penaloza said having the council set a supermajority was “symbolic” and a “waste of our time” since it could be reversed by a future council. Mayor Valerie Amezcua joined them in their opposition Tuesday night.

    “This is standing up and saying it is important for us to do everything that we can to support a policy that is keeping thousands of families in the city of Santa Ana from being on the precipice of homelessness,” Phan said. “This is saying we will stand up and make sure that a law that is seeking to protect tenants and residents in the city of Santa Ana is going to be as protected as possible.”

    City staff estimated that a measure would cost between $279,085 and $327,742 to place on the ballot next year.

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    ​ Orange County Register