After deliberation by the Sacramento County Superior Court, it was ruled that an initially revoked piece of rent control legislation will appear on the Sacramento County ballot this November.
Measure C, the bill currently set for the ballot, would supplement a rent control bill passed last year, the Tenant Protection and Relief Act, but would provide more significant protections for renters.
The Tenant Protection and Relief Act initially prevented landlords from raising yearly prices by more than 5%, though the figure has raised to 6% as of July 1 to adjust for inflation and could increase to a maximum of 10% by the time of the bill’s expiration in 2024.
The new legislation would cap yearly rent increases firmly at 5%, establish an independent renters board, and would not feature an expiration date, in contrast to the Tenant Protection and Relief Act.
“They passed their own version, watered down Tenant Protection and Relief Act,” said Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action member Shea Dlott of the 2019 legislation at a rally outside of City Hall last year. “This is nothing but a smokescreen so they do not have to address real tenant protections, and our real stories, and our real, lived experiences.”
According to the ruling, however, Measure C could be ruled unconstitutional after the November election, as it could be determined that the implementation of the bill would require a fundamental restructuring of the county charter.
“[The] petitioner presents arguments warranting careful consideration by this court that the initiative can be considered an amendment rather than a revision to the charter and that the substantial legal questions presented by this case should not and need not be resolved prior to the election,” wrote Associate Judge Ronald Robie in the ruling.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg and four City Councilmembers have signed a letter in opposition to Measure C, arguing that the bill will excessively cost the city and create governmental inefficiencies.
“Measure C creates another layer of bureaucracy by establishing a new, elected rent board, which will require significant new costs and remove the City Council’s ability to deal with rent control issues and disputes,” reads the letter.
City Councilmember elect Katie Valenzuela has advocated in favor of the proposed bill, however, arguing that the creation of an independent renters board will facilitate productive mediation between tenants and landlords.
“I’ve talked to landlords who have been charging below-market rate for their units,” Valenzuela told CapRadio in interview, “and they said, ‘I feel like I’m being punished because now I can’t raise the rent as someone who’s been charging market rate,’ and that’s exactly what a renter’s board might be able to address.”
The state of California has implemented a similar rent control bill to the Tenant Protection and Relief Act as of January 1 that also set a base 5% cap on annual rent increases that can raise no higher than 10%, adjusting for inflation, though the protections are provided only for buildings that were constructed over 15 years ago.
Additionally, the statewide election in November will feature Proposition 21 that seeks to replace the Costa-Hawkins Act and reduce restrictions on rent control laws in local governments in California.
Voters will decide on whether to adopt Measure C in Sacramento County on November 3.