San Jose

San Jose Leaders Look at Rent Control and Eviction Concerns

City's housing director on April 18 will submit two proposed policies geared at aiding tenants evicted without cause

After months of community fights and negotiations, the city of San Jose is finally planning to address renters facing eviction without cause.

The issue arose in December at a San Jose complex called The Reserve, where hundreds of tenants were evicted from their rent-controlled units so the owner could convert the complex into luxury units.

NBC Bay Area revealed in a December story that the city had no program to help relocate or compensate evicted residents.

At City Hall on Tuesday, solutions were in the works regarding property owners making changes that leave tenants out on the street. The city's housing director is planning to propose limited but significant changes to the council on April 18, such as strict notification requirements.

"And it also provides a package of relocation benefits that a tenant can rely on and plan on and can use to move out of their house and find a new home," said Jacky Morales-Ferrand, San Jose Housing Director.

Meanwhile, The Reserve apartment complex is virtually a ghost town. This Friday, the last of the 672 people who used to live in 216 rent control units there will be gone.

The plan is for the property to be part of a market-rate housing-slash-shopping complex, with retail that will benefit the city. But it doesn't include help for those evicted.

The South Bay Tenants Union said it's concerned about many other landlords getting rid of rent-controlled units.

"Any owner can go ahead and do this," said Shaunn Cartwright, the union's organizer. "And it's legal, and they know that. And that's why they do it."

The group points to a complex on Randolph Drive as an example. A new owner evicted rent-control tenants there, reportedly to convert to market-rate housing for veterans.

"It's hard to lose rent-controlled housing," Morales-Ferrand said. "So one of the additions that we're going to be asking the Council to consider is to replace the rent control units that are lost when a building is demolished."

Although both the proposals are limited and short-term oriented, they would be brand new policies in a city where rapid growth is likely to cause the issue to resurface soon.

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