In a unanimous vote, the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education threw its support behind a local rent control initiative.
Board members Scott Phelps, Michelle Richardson-Bailey, Patrick Cahalan and Elizabeth Pomeroy agreed to support the resolution at the board’s March 29 meeting.
Board members Larry Torres, Kim Kenne and Board President Roy Boulghourjian abstained.
Torres lives in nearby Sierra Madre which would not be affected by the measure. Kenne said she did not have enough information to vote, and Boulghourjian said he had no proof that rent control works.
“Declining enrollments affect everything we do in this district, and those are affected by rising rents,” Phelps said.
According to Phelps, the district was forced to close four schools in 2004 because 1,100 families left the district. More than 1,000 of those families were from Northwest Pasadena.
The district has been struggling financially for several years due to declining enrollment and state laws that favor charter schools over the public school system.
School funding by the state is based on student average daily attendance, or ADA, with current budget cuts the result of steep and ongoing reductions in the district’s student population. Due to declining attendance, the board closed four schools in 2006 and two more in 2011.
District officials have blamed the decreasing numbers on “white flight,” a phenomenon caused by upper middle-class white families pulling their children out of the struggling PUSD schools and placing them in area private schools or charter schools.
Fifty-seven percent of Pasadena residents are renters, according to the Pasadena Tenants Union (PTU), and 42.9 percent are homeowners.
The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Pasadena has risen more than 51.7 percent in the past six years, with rents on some one-bedroom apartments totaling as much as $2,200.
In November, three Pasadena renters filed a petition to place a rent control initiative on the November ballot, and they have begun collecting signatures.
The proposed measure will require 12,892 valid signatures by May in order to qualify for the Nov. 6 ballot.
The measure would limit rent increases, force the city to adopt just cause eviction policies — which limit the reasons a landlord can evict a tenant — and establish an independent rental housing board.
Only a handful of Southern California cities have rent control ordinances, including Los Angeles, Santa Monica, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills.