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Protesters shut down L.A. City Council meeting on rent control; police make several arrests

May 21, 2010 |  4:06 pm


Los Angeles Police Department and City Hall security police tackled and took into custody several protesters who shouted complaints at the City Council and effectively shut down its meeting Friday after officials put off voting on a rent hike moratorium.

Three members of the L.A. Community Action Network were arrested, officials said. Council members had been scheduled to consider an ordinance preventing the owners of thousands of rent-controlled apartments from imposing an optional 3% rent hike between now and Oct. 31.

The proposed ordinance would impose a rent moratorium for buildings constructed before 1978 that have six or more units, a group that is governed by the city's rent-control law. 

Owners of rent-controlled buildings with five or fewer units, a group some council members refer to as "mom-and-pop landlords," would be exempt. Housing officials said at least 200,000 of the city's 630,000 rent-controlled apartments would qualify for the exemption, which was proposed by Councilwoman Janice Hahn.

On May 7, the council by a narrow 8-6 vote approved a measure asking City Atty. Carmen Trutanich to prepare the rent moratorium, which was proposed by Councilman Richard Alarcon. Under the city's housing law, owners of rent-controlled properties are eligible to impose 3% rent increases July 1.

Opponents of the moratorium said they would ask the county to lower their taxes by reassessing their property values downward if the measure passes. Supporters pointed out that owners of rent-controlled buildings will still be allowed to pass various costs, including repairs, to tenants. But officials decided to delay the vote by sending the measure back to a council committee. 

-- Phil Willon

Photo: Phil Willon / Los Angeles Times