VIDEO: Concord City Council discusses renter protections

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CONCORD (BCN) — The Concord City Council Tuesday night discussed a package of renter protection proposals that are intended to provide some help for people who are struggling with the region’s ongoing housing crisis.

While the Council won’t be voting to approve the proposals Tuesday night, they were expected to receive a presentation from the city’s Housing and Economic Development Department and then direct their staff to come back with a more fleshed-out proposal.

One of the ideas is to limit rent increases to 3 percent or lower for a 45-day period, which the city refers to as a rent increase moratorium.

“What we’re hoping for is that the Council will vote for a 45-day moratorium with a 3 percent cap on rent increases with no loopholes,” said Beth Trimarco, spokeswoman for the Raise the Roof Coalition that advocates for housing affordability policies and renter protections.

The moratorium will give the City Council, city staff and the community time to develop a long-term solution to the housing crisis, Trimarco said.

“We’d love to see a more permanent rent control situation, as well as more affordable housing being built,” she said.

Currently, Concord, where renters make up 41 percent of households, has no rent control policy.

Also on the table for the Council to consider Tuesday night was the development of a renter hotline, which people could use to report large rent increases to city staff, who can then use the information to determine if more vigorous renter protections are necessary.

The Council also reviewed the notion of creating a non-binding mediation process for renters and landlords who are at odds over rent increases.

Trimarco says the hotline and mediation proposal have no teeth and puts the onus on renters to fight off unjust rent increases. It’s the landlords who should be required to request approval for any increases before
they take effect, she said.

The council was also considering whether to grant $1.1 million to a nonprofit affordable housing group to maintain 100 below-market units in the city.

The rent increase moratorium, hotline and mediation process could come back for a final vote at the City Council’s Dec. 13 regular meeting.

Tuesday night’s meeting started at 5:30 p.m. at Concord City Hall and members of Raise the Roof gathered at 5 p.m. for a rally prior to the meeting.

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