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Santa Barbara City Council approves tenant protections ordinance without rent cap

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – After a nearly four-hour meeting, the Santa Barbara City Council approved a tenant protections ordinance, but tenants and advocacy groups said it is missing a vital piece: a 10% rent cap.

"I think it's great that the ordinance passed. However, without the rent cap that we were really hoping for and that we desperately need, it's more than likely that I'm going to be priced out of Santa Barbara," said Lisa Hayworth, renter at 215 Bath Street in Santa Barbara.

The ordinance the council approved allows tenants the right of refusal after a landlord renovation, however there is no cap on the dollar amount a landlord could raise rent to after the tenant returns. 

Hayworth said she has gone without hot water in her unit on Bath Street for five days. 215 Bath Street made headlines back in October after the Koto Group bought the 52-unit property and tenants voiced concerns about being evicted to allow the Koto Group to make renovations. 

Hayworth said without a rent cap, her rent could be raised if she is evicted due to renovations. 

"Yes, I'll be able to rent after the renovations are completed, however there's no way without that cap, and if they price me out, that I'll be able to stay in Santa Barbara."

News Channel reached out to the Koto Group to inquire if any renovations are expected for the property and if any tenants will be evicted but has not heard back.

The vote was 6-1, with Councilwoman Meagan Harmon voting in opposition.

Councilman Mike Jordan, whose district includes 215 Bath Street, said he could not support any cap in rent when tenants return after a renovation.

In addition to the right of refusal, the ordinance passed Tuesday night also protects tenants from harassments. These harassments include property owners failing to perform necessary repairs and maintenance.

Dan Hentschke with the City's Attorney's Office said the tenant protection that would prevent property owners waiting at least one year after purchasing a property before renovating a building was not included in the approved ordinance.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
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