South Pasadena tenants got a reprieve earlier this week from the threat of eviction by landlords who say they’re planning substantial renovations, but have yet to obtain needed construction permits.
By William J. Kelly
The City Council Dec. 16 extended the current moratorium, which was set to expire this week, by four months. The Council also signaled it plans to vote on a permanent ban on evictions for substantial renovation unless landlords already have permits in hand at its next meeting on Jan. 21.
Meanwhile, the Council asked the city staff to evaluate and report back by April on whether relocation assistance to tenants evicted for substantial renovations should be increased. At that time, the council could conceivably boost relocation assistance, which currently amounts to one month of rent.
Councilmember Michael Cacciotti suggested landlords who are “unscrupulous” when it comes to falsely claiming tenants need to leave so they can perform renovations they don’t intend to do or do without needed permits should pay higher relocation fees than law-abiding landlords. They should pay a “penalty,” he said.
“The biggest type of code enforcement case we have is unpermitted construction,” acknowledged City Planning Director Joanna Hankamer. She explained that the city placed the original moratorium on evictions for substantial renovations without permits in early November after a local landlord evicted tenants before obtaining city permissions. In fact, she said, permits are still pending.
The City Council agreed to take up the permanent eviction ban in January after Councilmember Evelyn Zneimer called for an immediate vote on the matter this week. “Fifty-one percent of our residents in South Pasadena are renters and they contribute to the economy,” she said. Zneimer called on the City Council to “protect the tenants.”
Climate Action Plan
In other action at this week’s meeting, Councilmembers unanimously approved the city’s Climate Action Plan. That plan aims to make the city carbon neutral by 2045 through a series of actions in the years ahead that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.