On December 5, the Delano City Council had a regular board meeting, covering agenda item number 19 — the discussion and direction of a potential rent control ordinance in the City of Delano.
The motion for further discussion and direction on a potential rent control ordinance passed 2-1. Veronica Vasquez Mayor Pro Team and Mayor Osorio were in favor and Liz Morris voted against it.
Although the city council has been discussing rent control and eviction protections since 2018, the two topics haven’t been tabled or minimized into planning sessions and have yet to be voted on to enact action.
“In my second-to-last meeting this evening, I pushed for the council to take more steps to pass rent control after several meetings of discussions over the last two years,” Mayor Osorio stated on his social media.
Osorio also included a thank you note to several organizations such as Central Valley Empowerment Alliance, Delano Guardians, and LOUD For Tomorrow.
“I hope that this meeting served as a sign of progress to the folks who spoke in support of this item. I took it as a commitment for the future council to consider. While nothing is set in stone, I don’t want it to be out of sight or out of mind,” Mayor Osorio stated after the motion passed. “I want it to be something we make sure to talk about because the affordable housing crisis isn’t going away any time soon, so if we can make sure we keep track of our communities’ concerns and try to elevate them when we can — I think we’ll be in a good relationship with the community.”
Community members attended the meeting to share stories in favor of establishing rent control in the area. Many residents who spoke were concerned for multi-family households supporting at-risk youth, the elderly and disabled who are on fixed incomes, and seasonal farm workers who might not have enough income to last the winter.
Following the public comments, Morris commented: “I know rent is hard, but then again mortgages are high, not every landlord or property owner is wealthy. I can tell you that because I know many that aren’t, and even though they may be homeowners or have properties they are not getting a good rate of return on their property.”
Morris also added that she felt uncomfortable voting without all members present.
Requirements to meet eligibility for a future rent control ordinance were explained by City Attorney Rachel H. Richman.
Richman stated in the staff report that exemptions include units that have received certificates of occupancy after February 1, 1995, doesn’t apply to condominiums or single-family homes unless they are owned by corporations or real estate investment trust, duplexes where the owner lives in one of the units, and does not apply to tenants who lived in a unit for less than one year.
Richman’s research suggested that it could take Delano nine to 18 months to have information for implementation of rent control, and based on other cities, it could cost thousands of dollars. However, if passed in future council meetings, a rent control ordinance would be historic for the city, with over 40 percent of its population being renters.
Since October 2022 Delano residents have been pushing for rent control to be on the agenda and voted on. All public comments during Monday’s meeting were in support of adopting an ordinance. Eviction protections were also discussed but were not documented on the agenda.
Delano residents can follow the development of the ordinance by attending council meetings and by staying updated on who the city hires as a consultant, who they appoint and hire to implement the ordinance, and acknowledging which buildings in their area get approved.
“Rent Control is the broadest and fastest solution to housing and affordability, rent control — it truly works,” Shar Thompson, Central Valley regional coordinator for Tenants Together, stated in public comments through Zoom.
Tenants Together have helped renters who were wrongfully evicted due to rent increases that exceed the state limit of 10 percent, Thompson cited legislation Assembly Bill 1482.
“As rents go up, tents go up,” said Susie Shannon, who works with Housing Is A Human Right and is the author of California Senate Bill 1380. “There is a cost to homelessness. The cost in the state is $45,000-55,000 dollars per person that’s chronically homeless, in addition [the city] will pay for homeless services, emergency room visits, and EMT runs. So when looking at a costs-benefits analysis it’s really important to understand that you will actually pay more as a city, as the homelessness rises, as opposed to making sure people can stay in their homes. It’s better for the community. It’s better for families who can keep their children consistently at their school and be near their doctors.”
Shannon further stated that the best way to keep families stable and in their homes is by adopting Rent Control. The research used by Shannon showed a direct relationship between rent increases and individuals experiencing homelessness for the first time.
“I’m here representing the youth and working families that we collaborate with through LOUD For Tomorrow, I’m also here to give my support for rent control. We work with immigrant families, farm workers, folks that earn under the poverty line in California, and rent control is something that can truly help them,” Anai Paniagua shared during public comments, adding she is excited about future progress.
Although no concrete plans have been made to create an ordinance for rent control there have been commitments made by the council to further efforts.
“In my talks and walks with community members I’ve noticed most of the older people now do not go to work, and most of the families I’ve talked to share like six people in the household. They share income, because they have to, not because they want to,” claimed community member Isabel Mallari. “Thank you Mayor [Osorio] for bringing up rent control in Delano.”
At the end of the meeting, Councilmember Vasquez raised her concerns regarding the lack of movement on the housing issue and the need to have oversight, especially if new council members are also land owners. Vasquez candidly spoke on her experiences trying to keep families together and housed during a crisis.
“I’ve mentioned it many times, and I know folks sometimes get tired of hearing it, but my full-time job I’m a CPS social worker. I work with families who have had children taken away,” Councilmember Vasquez stated. “One of the most difficult things that we deal with is housing, and when the children get taken away, then are [the parents] going to get the kids back? If they don’t have housing?”
Many times city officials and law enforcement get involved if the housing is in deplorable condition, if there have been eviction notices, or if the area is deemed not safe for a child.
Mayor Osorio finished the meeting by reiterating the urgency to develop a rent control ordinance. The ask of the night from the community and the Mayor was a limit of 70 percent of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or a three percent cap per year for rent increases.