Looking for a problem

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The proposed Tenant and Landlord Protection Ordinance under consideration in the City of Chula Vista is a solution seeking a problem. Many members of our Southern California Rental Housing Association – owners and managers of rental properties as well as the small businesses that provide services to rental properties – attended the Jan. 31 commission meeting and made their voices heard through submitted written comments.

Our members recommended to the Housing Advisory Commission the formation of a working group and asked them not to forward the ordinance to the City Council for a vote. Ultimately, the Housing Advisory Commission agreed to postpone moving the ordinance forward. Some concerns voiced by commissioners include protecting “mom & pop landlords,” addressing provisions for mobile homes, and assessing the impact on the future of Chula Vista’s housing stock. There has been no study of potential impacts on the city’s existing housing units or what it will mean for future development. Housing costs continue to rise because housing construction has not kept pace with demand. Discouraging investment in existing and new rental housing stock, an effect this ordinance will have, is a disservice to renters in Chula Vista and the entire community.

The City Council directive to create a whole new set of drastic laws is based almost solely on complaints from residents at two properties, yet the proposal would impact all housing providers and open the door to costly frivolous lawsuits. The ordinance would also criminalize violations of the law, levying fines and possibly jail time on housing providers. We must also consider renters’ rights because as we have seen during the pandemic, strict regulations embolden problematic tenants, leaving good residents to suffer.

We believe that state law sufficiently addresses much of what has been discussed in the proposed ordinance and the creation of new laws is unnecessary. Rather than enact more laws, the City should focus on outreach and education, so all parties understand their rights and responsibilities and the remedies already available.
Our organization strives to be a part of the solution and promotes being good stewards of the community. We are grateful that City staff includes our organization as a key stakeholder. This isn’t over.

We will continue to educate commissioners and the City Council that this ordinance is not the answer. It will have unintended consequences for the city, property owners, as well as many of the residents they house.