Story by Zoe Schlaak
Photo by Noah Kuhn
The City Council unanimously approved a permanent renters protection ordinance that requires landlords to obtain a permit before evicting tenants for remodeling at its meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 20. The permanent ordinance follows months of a prolonged moratorium and advocacy from the South Pasadena Tenants Union (SPTU).
This ordinance is a permanent extension of the moratorium that closed a former eviction loophole by requiring landlords to obtain permits for “substantial remodels” before they can evict tenants.
Councilmember Jon Primuth accepted the ordinance but presented the council with an amendment to clarify that landlords need to explain why the work forces a tenant to vacate the property for at least 30 days.
“[My amendment] tightens up the definition of work so that people understand it’s work that requires a tenant not to be there, not just work where they could put on a couple of coats of paint [and] put in some finishing nails,” Primuth said.
Mayor Diana Mahmud was concerned that landlords might abuse this language, so she presented additional edits requiring an explanation of why the work cannot be completed within 30 days on top of Primuth’s proposed requirement. The Council passed the ordinance with Mahmud’s and Primuth’s amendments 5-0, and it went into effect immediately.
Housing rights advocates and members of the SPTU who have pushed for the ordinance for months expressed joy about the Council’s approval and are continuing to push for reforms.
“I’m obviously very excited that our renters now have this measure of protection,” SPTU co-founder John Srebalus said. “We will work to ensure that South Pas renters know about the new protection and how it works. We will advocate for fair relocation assistance and a meaningful inclusionary housing ordinance, both of which are on the city’s current agenda. And we will join the ARC, Care First, BLM and other organizations in pushing for additional homeless services, preferably outside the direction of the police department.”
The City of South Pasadena is hosting an online Housing Rights workshop for residents about tenant and landlord rights and updates on affordable housing initiatives on Monday, Jan. 25 at 6:00 pm.