Rallying for relief

Assemblyman’s bill would give renters in unincorporated Sacramento similar protections to those in the city limits

This story has been expanded from its print version.

San Francisco Assemblyman David Chiu is making a final push to get his landmark rent control and tenant protection bill across the finish line before the legislative session ends Friday—and a host of working-class Californians descended on Sacramento on Monday to help him.

Chiu’s Assembly Bill 1482 is very similar to the Tenant Protection and Relief Act that the Sacramento City Council passed Aug. 13. AB 1482 would prevent landlords from raising rents annually more than 7% plus the cost of living, and no more than 10% under any circumstances. Neither Sacramento’s ordinance nor Chiu’s bill can affect rents at apartments built after Feb. 1, 1995, or single-family homes or condos, which are protected from regulation by the state’s Costa-Hawkins law.

In terms of tenant protections, Chiu’s bill would eliminate no-cause evictions for renters with more than 12 months of tenancy, which is the same as Sacramento’s ordinance.

Two years ago, Chiu co-authored a bill with Assemblyman Richard Bloom to repeal Costa-Hawkins, but couldn’t even get it out of the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee that he leads. Yet with wide-scale evictions and displacement plaguing California, Chiu was able to wrestle his latest effort through the committee process. He’s now hoping for a final vote before the legislature’s Friday deadline to send bills to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Representatives from the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment said they believe the governor will sign the bill if it makes it to his desk.

More than 100 renters marched through every floor and hallway of the state Capitol Monday, promising to vote out any member of the legislature who opposes the bill.

One Sacramantan who supported Chiu’s effort from afar was 74-year-old Richard Mitchell, a blind and disabled tenant who says his rent increased by $500 a month over the last six years. Mitchell, a retired Campbell’s Soup worker, lives on a fixed income and goes to dialysis three times a week. Heath issues prevented him from attending the rally, but he sent his support via a video to organizers.

“I haven’t missed a payment in all the years I’ve lived here,” Mitchell said, tearing up. “With food going up and the prices around here, it’s just hard for me to live and have a decent meal. … Everybody needs help.”

Yesenia Miranda Meza, who drove all the way from Pomona in Southern California to attend the rally, said it’s easy for her describe why AB 1482 is important.

“My survival depends on it,” the single mother stressed. “In order for me and my kids to stay in our homes, we need this bill. I’m one rent increase away from being homeless.”