Rent Control Enacted in LA County Cities Amid Affordability Crisis

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In the face of soaring rents and a mounting housing affordability crisis, some cities in Los Angeles County have enacted fresh rent control laws.

Maywood, Bell Gardens and Cudahy — three municipalities that are part of the Gateway Cities — approved the measures in recent months to protect residents from being priced out and to prevent gentrification, the Los Angeles Times reported. However, opponents argue that such measures will further dissuade new housing development and exacerbate existing challenges.

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Maywood first implemented a 60-day rent freeze in February, which was later extended through September. The Maywood City Council approved a rent stabilization ordinance on July 26 — limiting annual rent increases on all units to 4 percent — set to take effect when the freeze ends. 

Neighboring cities Bell Gardens and Cudahy implemented similar rent control measures this year. The ordinances in all three cities are aimed at preserving affordable housing for their predominantly Latino and immigrant populations.

Opponents, including the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, argue that further rent control measures disincentivize new housing construction and reduce the already limited rental housing supply. Additionally, opponents claim that small landlords facing rising costs will be forced to raise rents to cover expenses, allowing for corporate landlords to swoop in and buy them out.

“It’s counterproductive; it actually ends up accelerating the very problem that [it] attempts to solve,” Jim Lapides, vice president of advocacy and strategic communications at the National Multifamily Housing Council, told the Times.

Renters make up over 73 percent of the population of Maywood, 86 percent of Cudahy and 79 percent of Bell Gardens. The South Bay and Gateway City neighborhoods were once considered more affordable, but have witnessed sharp increases in rents, prompting some residents to relocate to cheaper areas or even different states.

For example, resident Stephanie Portillo told the Times that rent for her one-bedroom Maywood unit increased from $1,000 to $1,245 after a new landlord acquired the apartment complex. In April, the landlord proposed a rent increase to $1,675.

Gregory Cornfield can be reached at gcornfield@commercialobserver.com.