FOX 5 San Diego

Debate continues on Chula Vista tenant protection ordinance

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – After hours of heated debate, Chula Vista city leaders will take even more time to vote on new rules impacting rental homes.

On Tuesday, Chula Vista City Council voted to postpone taking action on a new tenant protection ordinance. Mayor Mary Casillas Salas believes the measure would fight “no-fault” evictions and lend help to families getting priced out in the tight housing market.

More than 50 speakers signed up to state their case before the council with two very different sides emerging, largely split between tenants and local landlords.

“We’re low income, so where are we going to go?” Dora Parra said. “I got two weeks. I’ve been at this residence 17 years.”

The ordinance would address no-fault evictions related to substantial remodel, removal of a property from the rental market, and harassment or retaliation by landlords.

Parra said she’s the victim of a no-fault eviction over a property renovation.

“We’re good tenants,” she said. “We’re not problem makers and we are here asking for help.”

Others like Jason Lopez, president-elect of Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors, say this measure would go too far to punish landlords. If it were to pass, landlords argue property owners will be less motivated to rent out their units, and ultimately fewer rental properties would be available. 

“There’s been no study,” Lopez said. “There’s no data to support that there have been issues that would require an additional regulation on top of the state regulation.” 

Molly Kirkland, director of public affairs for the Southern California Rental Housing Association, says some of the requirements proposed for substantial remodels by landlords would be egregious. 

“It would require significant relocation costs in excess of what the state requires currently and the problem with that is the formula they’ve come up with,” Kirkland said. “It doesn’t reflect what a tenant pays currently. It’s based on what you would pay on the open market.” 

The council ultimately has two options: Place an ordinance on first reading adding a chapter in the Chula Vista Municipal Code for “Residential Landlord and Tenant Provisions” or introduce and adopt an Emergency Ordinance and place an ordinance on first reading enacting a moratorium on no-fault just cause evictions through Sept. 30. California already has a tenant protection law that took effect in 2020, but Chula Vista’s ordinance would replace it if passed. 

Tenants’ rights groups have recently amped up requests for stronger renter protections after complaints of increasing evictions, particularly in the Chula Vista area.

“No one should be evicted in order for the landlord or new landlord to make more money,” said Luis Castro, with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. 

By nearly 11 p.m., discussion on the ordinance was ongoing and Salas proposed an extension for the item to be heard again when all members are present. Councilmember Andrea Cardenas was not able to attend the meeting and Councilmember John McCann recused himself as he owns more than four rental properties.