SAN DIEGO – Leaders in the City of San Diego are one step closer to adopting a new ordinance that would strengthen renter protections in America’s Finest City. It would also offer more compensation for no-fault evictions.

San Diego City Council voted 8 to 1 following hours of debates at City Hall last month in favor of new tenant protections. It updates a 19-year-old policy, which is critical to keep people in their rental units to try to prevent homelessness.

According to the City, evictions are currently at a five-year high, something city leaders believe directly correlates to the rise in homelessness. In 2019, the state did work to address the matter statewide with AB 1482, which strengthens eviction protections for the state, but the bill does not apply to San Diego “…because of a provision that limits its applicability to jurisdictions without just-cause ordinances.”

“For 2 1/2 years, city of San Diego tenants have had the least amount of protection in the entire state, so what this does is lift the floor,” said Gil Vera, the senior housing attorney with Legal Aid Society San Diego. “It will provide slightly greater protections than what was provided at the state level.”

Now, a new ordinance changes that, lifting San Diego beyond state standards by protecting renters from day one of their lease, offering financial assistance when a lease is cut short, and holding landlords accountable. It also entitles renters to two months’ rent relocation assistance or three months’ rent if you are a senior or a person with disabilities.

However, because proposals like relocation assistance go above California state law, others worry it may create newfound concern.

“I think we have to be mindful of unintended consequences. When we are requiring additional relocation assistance, that maybe disincentives some owners from keeping their rents below market and not taking the max rent increase each year, said Molly Kirkland, director of public affairs with Southern California Rental Housing Association.

One landlord at Tuesday’s second hearing before council called the move a nightmare, especially for mom-and-pop owners.

“The way you got this written is if I rent to somebody for one day, I owe them a place to stay for the rest of their lives. That’s just a little harsh, you can’t put that requirement on any other small business.”

Allyson Snow with the Housing Rights Project at University of San Diego says otherwise.

“It really is still protecting the interests of people who saw this as a way to retire, an investment in real estate to retire, but for those big corporate landlords who can absorb the hit and who have been the most egregious offenders without reason to do so in the past, that’s who this is going to impact,” Snow said.