SAN JOSE (BCN) — After a marathon meeting that started Tuesday afternoon and lasted into the night, the San Jose City Council approved changes to the apartment rent ordinance and postponed deciding on other proposals until next month.
The council approved lowering the city’s annual allowable rent increase from 8 percent to 5 percent. The Housing Department had recommended the city tie the rate to the Bay Area Consumer Index, which was supported by many community members.
Under state law, the ordinance only applies to 44,000 units built before 1979, which makes up one-third of the rental housing in the city.
Hundreds of people, including landlords, renters and their supporters, filled the City Council chambers and overflow rooms to give one-minute comments on the issue that lasted through the night.
“We’re talking about thousands of families that are struggling to survive in this valley,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said outside City Hall this
“At the same time, there are a lot of small landlords whose livelihoods depend on this so we recognize people are passionate about this,” Liccardo said.
The lowered rate was approved by a 6-to-5 vote, with support from the mayor and councilmembers Chappie Jones, Manh Nguyen, Tam Nguyen, Rose Herrera and Johnny Khamis.
The council also removed the city’s debt-service pass-through provision, which allowed landowners to pass up to 80 percent of new mortgage
costs to tenants.
Among other actions, the council also approved a rental registry to collect data on rent increases, tenant turnover and anyone not complying
with the ordinance.
The council also approved an anti-retaliation and protection ordinance to help tenants address any issues with their landlords before they complain to the city.
Many tenants had complained that they were kicked out over reporting a basic maintenance issue or didn’t speak out about problems out of fear their landlord will retaliate.
The council also directed city staff to modify the capital improvement program in addition to a pilot program to settle problems between
a landlord and tenant or tenants.
The council is expected to discuss other issues surrounding the apartment rent ordinance next month, including a possible urgency ordinance that would temporarily stop any annual rent increases.
In a memo Tuesday before the meeting, Councilman Manh Nguyen called on city staff to look at a $1 billion housing bond proposal to build more affordable units.
The city is in discussion with Santa Clara County on a countywide housing bond, which would allow them to obtain more resources, Liccardo said.
More needs to be done to address the city’s housing crisis, which won’t be solved solely through a housing bond or rent control, the mayor said.
“We’ve got a lot of tools but we’ve got to push on all of them,” Liccardo said.