Rent Stabilization Policy Process Materials are Posted

RSO bulletin callout boxCity of Beverly Hills has released a raft of draft rent stabilization issue papers produced by the city’s consultant, HR&A Advisors. As we explained in a recent post, The City’s Roadmap for Rent Stabilization, the consultant’s work will shape the City Council’s policy discussion this fall. That includes key issues like the no-just-cause eviction, rent increases and relocation fees; but it also includes proposals that favor landlords like rent-banking and exemptions from the rent stabilization program. Let’s look at what the city laid on us this week.

The materials released by the city include a set of draft issue memos produced by consultant HR&A Advisors; a city staff report concerning new habitability standards; and a consultant-produced matrix of rent stabilization policies as adopted by other cities in California (one of just five states that explicitly allow for rent control).[1]

The HR&A issue papers will inform this fall’s discussion with data unseen in last year’s Council meetings and facilitated dialogues. But these issue papers will also structure the process. That is, if it is not covered in an HR&A memo it is likely not to be discussed this fall.

These are the seven consultant memos:

Note: Renters Alliance reformatted for accessibility the unwieldy memo package posted by the city (hundreds of pages!) into separate memos and other documents. Those other documents include a not-very-user-friendly matrix of rent control policies by city. We have not been able to secure a better version from either the city or the consultant. (Radio silence greeted those requests!). Find the unusable matrix here:

In addition to the HR&A Advisors memorandums and matrix, the consultant has provided an overview of rental unit registry data and put it into some regional context:

Renters Alliance summarized that data brief and added some thoughts of our own. Finally, the city posted its own memorandum on habitability standards (a topic that was discussed in the last summer dialogues):

In total these documents both feed the discussion and structure the upcoming process. That includes three scheduled facilitated dialogues and two follow-up City Council study sessions. We talk about the coming process in the roadmap post. Here are the scheduled dialogues.

Revised schedule for dialogues
Note: this schedule replaces the earlier announced schedule as one date has changed.

What’s NOT on the City Agenda

There is much left out that would better-protect tenants. What about local protections against landlord harassment? Or a specific ordinance provision that establishes penalties for unlawful unit entry or landlord retaliation? There should be an explicit penalty when relocation fees are withheld. And tenants with pets need better protection against capricious 3-day notices to vacate if the lease prohibits a pet. There is and much, much more we need to see in a well-thought-out rent stabilization ordinance.

Also not on the city’s agenda, evidently, is a rent committee or board where tenant and landlord representatives could adjudicate disputes and perhaps make policy recommendations. There is precedent: Beverly Hills once had a rent board (later a commission). But that idea appears not on the Council’s agenda at present though both tenants and landlords were generally supportive of such a body.

First You’re Hearing About HR&A Advisors?

Any resident who rents but did not know that a consultant was working on an analysis of rent stabilization issues can be forgiven. For many months the city has been silent about the policy process. Aside from a brief update last March and a sparsely-attended ‘community education’ event in May, for most of us the rent stabilization policy process simply seemed to go on hiatus. Many tenants still think the current allowed increase and relocation fee schedule is permanent. (They are not!)

However readers of our Renters Alliance email newsletter (subscribe) will have known that City Council did engage the consultant last November, and that the contract effectively defined the scope of this fall’s rent stabilization policy discussion. Renters Alliance provided an update in February as well as posted our view on the process ahead in July. Most recently we opined on the next round of facilitated dialogues coming this month. We try to keep you informed. Now it’s your turn to really pay attention!

  1. California is one of only five states that explicitly allow for rent controls, according to the pro-landlord National Multifamily Housing Council. (Another seven states are silent on it while eleven states require enabling legislation from the state legislative, such as to declare a housing or other crisis like a natural disaster.) However California’s Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act greatly restricts a locality’s ability to control rents in the state. An initiative to repeal that law will come before the voters in November.  ↩

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