Burbank City Council to Discuss Expanded Rent Control Measures

On April 23, 2024, the Burbank City Council is set to convene a critical session where they will deliberate on a proposed ordinance that aims to significantly expand rent control within the city despite the state’s current rent control protections already in place.

Details of the Proposed Ordinance

The ordinance under consideration proposes to lower the cap on annual rent increases more stringently than state mandates currently allow. Under existing California law, notably Assembly Bill 1482 (AB 1482), rent increases are capped at 5% plus the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index, or 10%, whichever is lower. Burbank’s proposal aims to tighten this cap further, though specific figures will be presented and debated in the council meeting.

Additionally, the proposal includes enhanced tenant protections, such as increased relocation assistance and more robust just cause eviction requirements. These provisions are designed to offer greater stability and security to tenants, particularly those in vulnerable demographics or financial situations.

Housing providers and developers historically have objected to such measures as unfair and a deterrent to new construction.

Comparative Analysis with Other Cities

The Council will also review the impacts of similar rent control measures in other cities, which have shown mixed results:

  • Santa Monica and Los Angeles: Both cities have longstanding rent control measures. While these policies have provided some level of rent stability, they have also been criticized for discouraging new construction and reducing the overall availability of rental units. Landlords in these areas sometimes convert rental properties to condos or other less regulated forms of housing to circumvent rent control, potentially leading to a decrease in rental stock.
  • San Francisco: Like Santa Monica, San Francisco has experienced challenges with its rent control policies, including reduced incentives for property owners to maintain or improve their rental units, contributing to a degradation of housing quality over time.

Considerations and Challenges

As Burbank considers adopting more stringent rent control measures, the City Council must balance the immediate need for tenant protection with the long-term implications for housing development and market stability. The debate is likely to involve input from a diverse array of stakeholders, including tenants, landlords, housing advocates, and economic experts, each bringing different perspectives on the potential benefits and drawbacks of the proposed changes.

The Council will also need to consider the administrative and fiscal impacts of these measures, including the costs of enforcing the new regulations and the potential need for expanded city services to support their implementation.

Housing providers claim that this decision is being rushed in light of the current election cycle and a desire by Mayor Nick Schultz to seek voter support as he runs for California State Assembly.

The cost of local city government per resident is a baseline for understanding how large or how efficient a government agency is. Critics claim Burbank has continued to become more expensive as a place to live because the government keeps expanding beyond what is reasonable and a local rent control ordinance for a small city such as Burbank will require substantial new costs in the form of city staff to manage and enforce such local laws.

Here are some examples of cost per resident:

Here’s the list sorted from highest to lowest city employee compensation cost per resident, along with their rent control status:

  1. Santa Monica: $3,495 – Has strict local rent control.
  2. Los Angeles: $2,228 – Has rent control.
  3. Burbank: $1,945 – Considering stricter rent control measures.
  4. Glendale: $1,355 – No rent control.
  5. Alhambra: $778 – No rent control.
  6. Whittier: $712 – No rent control.
  7. Southgate: $543 – No rent control.
  8. Hawthorne: $471 – No rent control.
  9. Norwalk: $357 – No rent control.
  10. Lakewood: $343 – No rent control.

Critics further point out that the most expensive cities in LA County are those with both rent control and “nanny” restrictive governments. Burbank has very high developer and impact fees to build new housing which contradicts the rhetoric from the City Council that they want more affordable housing available. According to one of the largest residential ADU builders in Burbank, approximately 8% of a new housing build is assessed in local city fees.

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