REDWOOD CITY — A proposed rent control resolution could be on the ballot in Redwood City this November after a coalition of community members presented more than 6,000 signatures to the Redwood City clerk’s office on Tuesday.

The Redwood City Fair and Affordable Housing Ordinance, which was put together by a coalition of community members led by Faith in Action Bay Area, a faith-based advocacy organization, proposes tenant protections such as rent control and limits on landlord evictions that advocates say are stronger than protections currently in place.

“This is inspired by people who live here, who rent here and who work here,” said Linda Goldman, a member of Faith in Action and a resident of Redwood City. “I’m a homeowner, but it’s really important to me because I love having a diverse community.

Residents watch as officials count signatures supporting a proposed rent-control ordinance on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 at the Redwood City Library. The Redwood City Fair and Affordable Housing Ordinance proposes tenant protections such as rent control and limits on landlord evictions that advocates say are stronger than protections currently in place.
Residents watch as officials count signatures supporting a proposed rent-control ordinance on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 at the Redwood City Library. The Redwood City Fair and Affordable Housing Ordinance proposes tenant protections such as rent control and limits on landlord evictions that advocates say are stronger than protections currently in place. 

“If people can’t afford to live here but they work here, then that means more people are commuting, which is bad for the environment. It means communities are less stable. It erodes the culture.”

At city hall Tuesday, a group of community members clad in yellow shirts and holding up homemade signs bearing phrases in both English and Spanish announced that they had collected 6,395 signatures from registered voters — well over the required 4,389 to get the referendum on the ballot, and several months before the August deadline.

Staff from the city clerk’s office counted the petitions at the Redwood City Library while supporters watched. The city has 30 days to verify the residency of those who signed the petitions before the city council will vote on whether the proposal will be on the ballot in November, said Matt Alexander, a spokesperson for Faith in Action.

If passed, the resolution will implement rent control to multi-unit housing that was built before 1995, capping rent increases at 60% of the percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for a given year and no more than 5% of a tenant’s current rent. It also creates stronger limits on the reasons why a landlord can evict a tenant, according to the resolution, and requires that landlords pay relocation fees for certain types of evictions.

The resolution includes a petition process in which landlords can apply to have rent increases over the limit, according to the text. The city would also create a rental housing fee paid by landlords to cover the cost of implementing the tenant protections, according to the resolution.

This marks the first citizen-led ballot initiative in Redwood City “in recent memory,” according to a press release from the Affordable Redwood City coalition. Redwood City is one of several cities in the Bay Area with proposed rent control resolutions moving toward the general-election ballot in November to counteract a housing crisis driven by high rents, with residents of San Pablo, Pittsburgh and Larkspur working to propose similar ordinances for their cities.

Opponents of the policy maintain that rent control is not a solution to a lack of affordable housing and that Redwood City already has sufficient tenant protections.

The California Apartment Association opposes the Redwood City rent control proposal, according to a statement from Joshua Howard, executive vice president of the California Apartment Association.

“Redwood City already offers robust renter protections, ensuring that most renters have the right to a fixed-term lease and receive relocation assistance if asked to move through no fault of their own,” Howard said in the statement.

Alane Gilbrech, executive officer of the San Mateo County Association of Realtors, said that rent control often has the opposite of its intended effect, raising available rent prices because people who live in rent controlled apartments tend to live in them for longer — leaving only more expensive rental units available.

“Rent control is one of the foremost threats to private property rights and will impact homeowners and tenants,” Gilbrech told the Bay Area News Group. “Rent control creates a stagnant market because it will always reduce the number and quality of rental housing units available.”

The best solution to the affordable housing crisis “is no rent control,” she said.

Redwood City has been working to develop more local housing to meet the needs of its residents. At the State of the City address in March, Redwood City Mayor Jeff Gee called the city “pro-housing.” As of the address, the city had reached 13% of a goal to develop 4,588 units by 2031.

The rent control resolution was filed with the city in December before organizers began collecting signatures from residents of Redwood City. To sway voters if the resolution makes it past the city council to the ballot, Faith in Action plans to continue the strategy it employed to get its petition signatures: talking to their neighbors.

“That’s where it started, that’s how the signature gathering happened,” said Clara Jaeckel, a member of Faith in Action and resident of Redwood City. “And that’s what we’ll continue to do to get the vote out.”