Renters' Rights Advocates on Hunger Strike in San Jose

Group has gone without food since Friday and says it will go until Tuesday council meeting

A group of renters' rights advocates in San Jose has gone nearly two days without food and was prepared to stay hungry for two more days to bring attention to a proposed city ordinance protecting tenants against no-cause evictions.

Three women have been fasting since Friday and sleeping on the steps outside City Hall. They were joined Easter Sunday by several supporters, and more people were expected to participate in the hunger strike starting Sunday evening.

The strikers said they will go without food until Tuesday's City Council meeting, during which city leaders will consider a so-called "just-cause" ordinance regarding evictions. Currently in San Jose, landlords are allowed to evict tenants without providing a reason.

The new measure not only would protect renters, but it also would require landlords to make property repairs more expeditiously and respond faster to tenant complaints.

Since 2010, there have been more than 2,000 "no-cause" evictions in San Jose, city records show.

The California Apartment Association responded to the protest, saying laws already exist to protect renters.

"San Jose already has laws to prevent landlords from evicting tenants for financial gain," association spokesman Mike Nemeth said. "The city needs to enforce those laws rather than create new legislation, more regulations and additional layers of bureaucracy."

The advocates have the support of the council, according to the Mercury News, which reported that council members Sylvia Arenas, Sergio Jimenez, Raul Peralez and Donald Rocha have expressed in writing their support, and Devora Davis and Lan Diep would recommend approval with some minor changes to the policy.

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