Concord rent control ordinance finally takes effect several weeks after passage: 'A great win'

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Sunday, April 21, 2024
Concord rent control ordinance finally takes effect:  'A great win'
Concord rent control ordinance finally takes effect after organizers fail to get measure on the November ballot.

CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) -- Months ago, Concord moved to keep rents from soaring. But there was a push to put it to a vote on the November ballot.

Organizers came up short and now, the ordinance has officially taken effect.

On Saturday afternoon, Jose and his wife were wrapping up their garage sale. It's part of spring cleaning, in case they have to move from Concord.

"It is really hard for us, like just work for rent. To pay the rent. We have more expenses than that, like the car repairs, (feeding) the family," said Jose, who didn't give his last name.

His family pays $3,000 to rent a small three bedroom house. Given what's at stake, he joined the coalition that fought an eight-year battle to get a rent control in Concord. The ordinance passed in March.

"We need to have a place to stay. Or we (will) be on the streets. That's the problem with California. We have a homeless crisis because there is no (rent) control," said Jose.

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The new ordinance caps rent increases at the lesser of 3% or 60% of the Consumer Price Index, or CPI. It also includes just cause eviction protections.

But city officials say the ordinance was challenged by those seeking to get a referendum on the November ballot. However, they failed to get the 7,204 signatures by Thursday. So the ordinance took effect on Friday.

"This was great. It was a great win," said Saabir Lockett. "The reason this is so important is because people were being evicted. Rents were being raised like a $1,000, $2,000 at a time."

Lockett is the Deputy Director for Civic Engagement at the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, or EBASE. It fights for workers' rights and tenant protections.

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He says too often the focus has been on cities Richmond and Antioch. Not Concord.

"So trying to address the work issue, also led to us understanding that, 'Hey, they can't even afford to pay their rent.' So it was necessary to get involved in the tenant issue and in the tenant fight because no one else was organizing in Concord at the time," said Lockett.

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He believes this Concord ordinance strikes a balance which gives property owners a return on their investment while protecting renters.

"People aren't making enough money to survive. So, it needs some type of equalizer or stabilization to be put into place so that people can actually survive. And have some type of sustainable income to take care of their whole family. And not spend their whole income on rent," says Lockett.

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