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MAYWOOD, Calif. 5/25/23— The Maywood City Council met in regular session last night to discuss the feasibility of rent control. Of particular interest was a rent increase cap, and many people rose at public comment to say rent is unaffordable.

Tenants and residents from Maywood, and neighboring cities, gathered at the regular May 24 city council meeting holding bright colored posters, in mostly Spanish, pleading the council to establish rent control. Some of the poster boards read “tenant justice” and “affordable housing keeps California diverse.” Some property owners and the Apartment Association of Greater LA were also present. 

Maywood is among the densest communities in California with approximately 24,122 residents living in 1.14 square miles, according to the latest housing element, which identifies a city’s housing conditions and needs. For many people, the cost of housing is unaffordable forcing people to live in multi-generational households. The city also has a population which is 72% renters, according to U.S. Bureau Census data. As the cost of living continues to grow, Maywood has become the latest city in southeast Los Angeles County to explore a rent control ordinance.

Neighboring Bell Gardens established their own rent control and renter protections last year. Cudahy, also in Southeast LA, currently has a rent increase freeze while they work on creating a rent control ordinance. 

Community members gathered at Maywood city council meeting
Community members gathered at Maywood city council meeting (Ashley Orona / Los Angeles Public Press)

“Trabajamos para pagar la renta o para comer,” said Cristina Sanchez, a resident of Maywood, in an interview with LA Public Press. 

Community members made public comments both in person and virtually. Some tenants shared stories about their landlords increasing their rent by hundreds of dollars from one month to another. Others described how they were afraid to ask their landlords to make essential repairs out of fear that they would increase their rent. 

“This body has been receptive to rent stabilization,” said Councilmember Eddie De La Riva. “We were the ones who initiated putting this on the agenda.” 

The council first established a 60-day rent increase freeze on Feb. 6, meaning no landlord could raise rent during that time. Since then, the rent increase freeze has been extended twice: once on March 22 and again at yesterday’s meeting. 

At last night’s meeting councilmembers directed staff to come up with recommendations for a permanent rent stabilization ordinance. Each councilmember gave their input on what they wanted staff to look into. Although no vote was taken on this item, the council had consensus on looking into a 4% annual rent increase limit, despite several community members advocating for a lower 2% yearly increase rent. The current allowable limit is 10%, or 5% plus inflation, based on the statewide to California’s tenant protection act.

The Council is also considering the establishment of a rental registry where property owners would register their rental properties and include information such as rent costs and vacancies. This could help the city and public keep track of rental properties.  

“We’re not saying we want to live rent free,” said Sanchez. “We’re just saying we don’t want the rent to increase too much.”

The author of this story previously worked with East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice which is leading the campaign for rent control in Maywood.

Ashley Orona is a journalist and community organizer from South Central Los Angeles. She loves spending time with her family, supporting local businesses, and finding new scenic views around LA.