Capitola Council delays decision on rent control repeal, again
CAPITOLA - The saga continues.
On Thursday, for the second time in two weeks, the City Council was scheduled to vote on a repeal of the city's rent control ordinance but chose to remove the item from the agenda and delay action.
Councilman Mike Termini, without offering a reason, moved to delay the second vote on repealing rent control, which would finalize the decision, "indefinitely."
The rest of the council voted to approve the delay except for Councilman Kirby Nicol, who has previously stated his support for the repeal.
Nonetheless, the council chambers were packed to capacity in anticipation of the public hearing. More than a dozen people spoke in favor of keeping the ordinance, even with the amendments added in March that initially sparked a battle between the city, park owners and residents.
"Thank you for the reprieve, however long it will last," said Surf and Sand Mobile Home Park resident Laurie Beamish. "No one is happy with [the amended] ordinance, but repeal would've had mass destructive consequences."
In March, the city offered to amend its rent control ordinance in order to settle two lawsuits with the owner of Surf and Sand, Ron Reed, regarding the mobile home park rent stabilization ordinance.
In return, low-income residents were to be offered long-term leases, but the residents have complained that the terms of the lease are excessively onerous.
Two lawsuits resulted from the amendments. One lawsuit against the city challenging a provision that exempted those with any other residential property from rent control was rejected by a county court judge Aug. 30. Another lawsuit was filed by several residents against Reed, challenging various terms of the lease.
City Attorney John Barisone said Thursday that Reed has filed to include the city as a cross-defendant in the case.
Councilman Sam Storey, a lawyer, said that he understands that emotions are running high and offered to sit down with anyone who would like to discuss sensible solutions.
"There are a lot of practical issues we need to deal with, and it would be helpful for me to see practical solutions coming from you," Storey said addressing rent-control advocates. "It takes understanding of the state of the city, its funding, and its burdens A bankrupt city cannot help anyone."
The city has spent about $1.5 million in the last decade to defend the ordinance from litigation, approximately a third of which came from mobile home park residents through a legal-defense fund.
Publicly, the council offered no insight into what led to its decision to indefinitely hold off on the vote.
During a short recess Mayor Dennis Norton said with the ongoing lawsuit the council members wanted more time to evaluate their options and said a decision on whether or not to proceed with the repeal process would be made within the next two months.