SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The city of Sacramento is considering several rent control policies. But the question is what can the city really do?

“This is my, personally as your mayor, my ‘I can’t sleep at night’ moment,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

Tuesday night, city leaders reviewed startling statistics. More than 26,000 households in Sacramento pay the landlord more than half of what they earn. In 2017, rent in Sacramento went up by 9.3 percent on average, the highest rent increase of any city in the country.

“The politics of this issue are not very good!” Steinberg said during Tuesday night’s housing workshop. “This issue for public officials is difficult at best.”

“The rent is just too high for us and we’re on a fixed income so we have to move,” said Olori Oyia, who lives in Sacramento. “I’m probably going to have to leave the state.”

At Tuesday’s workshop, city leaders presented several rent control solutions. One has owners of 1,000 to 2,000 units offering a voluntary rent cap of 3 percent per year. The city would then subsidize an additional 3 percent. This would cost the city roughly $450,000 per 1,000 units.

“The proposal, in my opinion, has merit,” Steinberg said. “This well-intentioned proposal is good but insufficient.”

Another idea is to create a temporary 5 percent mandatory cap on annual rent increases for three years. This would only apply to units 20 years or older. In Sacramento, there are more than 26,000 rental units built before 1995.

“Neither of these proposed pathways is perfect,” Steinberg said.

Other plans include an 18-month lease that owners would offer to tenants with no rent increase during that time.

“An 18-month lease will ensure stable rents and make sure that there is no displacement of the tenant,” said Sacramento City Councilman Rick Jennings, at a press conference earlier in the day. “The landlord will be required to offer an 18-month lease and then the tenant will have the opportunity to accept that lease.”

And if the rent does go up more than 6 percent, in a year the tenant has a chance to mediate through the tenant protection act.

“This is a key provision that we’re pushing forward to making sure tenants have accurate protections,” said City Councilman Eric Guerra.

But even with all of these plans, the mayor understands the opposition.
“I do not believe in permanent rent control,” he said.

“Rent control in any form will stop development in Sacramento!” said Josh Wood, who opposes rent control. “The only solution to this problem is more housing.”

But Sacramento native Charlotte Osborn urges the mayor not to give up on the future generation.

“My friends who grew up here in Sacramento, went to high school here, they go to Sac State and are homeless because they can’t afford to live in their own city!” she told CBS 13. “People who say that we don’t need rent control, honestly, they are on the wrong side of history.”

These city proposals would still be allowed under the state’s Costa Hawkins law, which prohibits rent control for new buildings. If the law is repealed by the state, then the city of Sacramento will adjust its plans.