By Mario A. Cortez
At the site of an uninhabitable apartment building in City Heights, where new management has increased rent by upward of $700 in recent months, local residents and tenants rights activists gathered last Friday to bring attention to the issue of quickly rising rent prices in underserved communities and to call on City Council to take action on a rent control ordinance to cap yearly increases to 2%.
The approximately 100 attendees held a rally outside the property on 4812 49th Street and then marched through the streets of City Heights, along Orange Avenue and looping back to their starting point through El Cajon Boulevard.
The event was organized by renters rights and advocacy group San Diego Tenants Union (SDTU) and gathered union members and San Diegans concerned with rapidly rising rent and its effects.
“People have rights as renters and the right to safe and affordable housing, and we continue to raise our voices in search of dignified housing and fair rent prices today,” said SDTU codirector Virginia Angeles to La Prensa San Diego. “It is sad to see families ending up in the streets because of high rent prices.”
A heavy imbalance in available units to demand has led to constantly rising rental costs throughout San Diego communities for years.
In recent months, however, new management company Acropolis Management said to tenants of 4812 49th Street they are raising prices to catch up with property mortgage payments and to pay for ongoing renovation work. Tenants living at the property have had rent increases of up to 70%, despite the building not being fit to live in.
The practice of dramatically raising rent after a lease period on a property ends is legal in San Diego county as long as a required 60-day notice is given to tenants, this according to a KPBS article.
In response, some tenants of City Heights properties leased by Acropolis Management said they are starting a rent strike on July 1.
Rosa Mendez currently inhabits the building at 4812 49th street. She says she initially paid $800 when she and her family of five first moved into the building eight years ago. “They raised prices to $1,100, then to $1,550, and are thinking of raising my rent up to $2,000 for my unrenovated unit,” she said.
This is not the first time local residents have faced rapid increases to already high rent costs. This April, tenants of a building on Marlborough Street were given a 60-day notification of a 75% increase to their rent by new management, and also citing renovation work. A similar situation also occurred this year to Linda Vista residents of a property on Morley Street.
“This is a situation that repeats itself throughout San Diego and that is why we are in this fight, to have City Council members hear us and pass a rent control ordinance before more families are displaced,” Angeles stated.