Hundreds address rent concerns at San Jose City Council meeting

By Devin Fahely | KRON 4 | Link to Article

SAN JOSE (BCN) — Hundreds of people plan to voice their concerns over high rent and needed protections against landlords in San Jose as the City Council is expected to vote today on adjustments to the city’s apartment rent ordinance.

The community members will gather at today’s meeting when the council is set to decide on proposed changes to the ordinance, which impacts 44,000 units built before 1979 and covers one-third of rental housing in the city.

The council is scheduled to meet at 1:30 p.m. but isn’t expected to begin discussing the ordinance modifications until after 3 p.m.The city’s Housing Department has recommended the council base rent annual increases on the Bay Area Consumer Price Index to replace the current 8 percent cap.

Under the Consumer Price Index, annual rent wouldn’t be decreased to less than 2 percent or increased by more than 8 percent.

The council will also consider adding a rent registry to make sure the ordinance is enforced and could also call on city staff to work on a voluntary mediation program to help settle disputes between a landlord and a tenant or between tenants.

Renters and supporters, many affiliated with the Silicon Valley Renters’ Rights Coalition, are expected to fill the council chambers with signs and share their stories with the council members.

The coalition gathered at City Hall last week when they set up a “tent city” outside to symbolize renters who couldn’t afford high rent in the city and ended up on the streets.

The coalition is comprised of multiple community organizations, including Silicon Valley De-Bug, Sacred Heart Community Service and People Acting in Community Together.

The coalition is supportive of basing rent increases on the Consumer Price Index, but no-cause evictions have left renters with the fear of getting displaced, Sacred Heart Community Service community organizer Mathew Read said.

The group is calling for just-cause evictions and more protections against their landlords, some who have forced renters to move over reporting a basic maintenance problem, according to Read.