Oxnard is poised to legislate on rent controls

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Mayor John Zaragoza with aerial view of Oxnard (City of Oxnard, iStock)

Oxnard is the latest Southern California city to implement rent controls amid rising housing costs.

The agricultural center on Ventura County’s coast passed two ordinances that would limit annual rent increases to 4 percent and introduce renter protections. If the bills pass a second reading, they could go into effect on July 1, the Ventura County Star reported.

Those who supported the ordinances argued that rents in the city were too high and discouraged families from living in larger apartments.

Opponents of rent control argued it would drive up landlords’ costs and put them out of business, worsening the housing shortage.

“I want to make sure there isn’t any negative impact on (residents) in terms of the economy, and that really scares me a bit,” said Councilor Bryan A. MacDonald, the only dissenter.

Among the dozens of residents who contacted the city council ahead of the vote, most supporters of a rent cap appeared to believe the program would help them deal with bad landlords, the newspaper said.

Councilor Gabriela Basua feared the tenants would be evicted by revengeful landlords or that the apartment building would be deemed uninhabitable or “red marked”.

In addition, city officials said the rent control program will not lower current rental rates. The program will cost the city an estimated $1.2 million per year to conduct an awareness campaign and respond to tenant complaints.

Oxnard’s regulation aims to stabilize rent rates by capping the maximum amount a landlord can increase rents each year to 4 percent. The rent cap would apply to residential complexes that are more than 15 years old. Newer apartments, rented single-family houses, side apartments and dormitories would not be affected by the rent cap.

The ordinance gives landlords the opportunity to apply to the city for a rent increase of more than 4 percent for a “fair and reasonable” profit on their property. However, the landlord would bear the costs incurred by the city to verify the increase.

If the Rent Control Act goes into effect, Oxnard would join cities across the region to enact renter protection measures.

The cities of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood have rent control regulations. Last fall, Santa Ana became the first city in Orange County to enact a rent control law. Other jurisdictions have already implemented eviction protections similar to those in Santa Ana, including Los Angeles County, Inglewood and Culver City.

This month, supporters of a rent control in Pasadena collected more than 15,000 signatures to bring the issue to November’s election.

[Ventura County Star] – Dana Bartholomew

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