SCRHA Advocacy Encourages National City Council to Delay Tenant Flood Protections

Legislative Updates,

At a hearing that went to almost 10 PM, the National City Mayor and City Council reviewed potential tenant protections that would go beyond the existing protections in the County Flood Eviction and Rent Cap Moratorium. Public comment included SCRHA, property owners, industry allies, and National City residents. Tenant advocates called on city leaders to address relocation payments, a stricter rent cap, and first right of return. They have also used the issue to call for Rent Control and permanent protections like those in Chula Vista and San Diego.

SCRHA explained that relocation payments, whether temporary or permanent, were unnecessary considering existing law and the County moratorium. Housing providers are already required to relocate tenants while repairs are being made and permanent relocation is only triggered when terminating a tenancy. The City Attorney cautioned the council on any additional rent freeze or cap as state law requires that landlords receive a fair return on their investment. First right of return for residents who wish to return to their rental unit after repairs was also discussed. SCRHA again reminded the Mayor and Councilmembers that the first right of return is specific to termination of tenancy, something that is not allowed during the County’s moratorium, and stressed that temporarily relocated tenants will already return to their units under the terms of their existing rental contracts.

Councilmember Jose Rodriguez, who pushed for the item to be on the council agenda, expressed his disappointment that action wasn’t being taken more quickly. However, Councilmembers Luz Molina and Ditas Yamane expressed concern about enacting something without data and more information on the impacts. Molina specifically stated she didn’t want to take any action that was punitive to all landlords if there were just a few bad actors. Mayor Morrison read a letter from an attorney for a property who has been the focus of some tenant groups. The letter firmly stated that no one was being evicted and that tenants will return to their units once repairs were complete, and at their previous rental rates.

Councilmember Rodriguez made a motion to direct staff to prepare a Local Emergency Ordinance with specific provisions, including having the moratorium in place for 60 to 90 days after the County Moratorium expires. The motion failed. Councilmember Marcus Bush, who was supportive of the initial motion, then made a motion that staff continue to review data and create possible language for the ordinance to be reviewed by the council at a later meeting. That motion passed unanimously.

SCRHA thanks the members and housing providers who attended and contacted the city. SCRHA will continue to work to educate Councilmembers on the issues and existing laws. We will notify members when the item returns to the council. Read more