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Referendum To Freeze Orange County Rent Fails Key Vote

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings signs and executive order mandating the wearing of face masks in public. Photo: Orange County.

A proposal to freeze rent in Orange County for a year failed Tuesday at the Orange County Commission.

Commissioner Emily Bonilla wanted to have a formal public hearing on rent-control next month. If it had been approved, voters would have made the final decision on a one-year rent freeze in November.

“We were already in a housing emergency prior to this, and it has been increased significantly due to a worldwide pandemic. I mean, if a worldwide pandemic isn’t enough to say we’re in a housing emergency, I don’t know what is.”

But only two members of the board voted in favor of the rent control hearing. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said the proposal was moving too quickly.

“We do have to involve the citizens in that process, and it would take some time to do that. I don’t ever want to rush something to the ballot.”

The board heard public comment from landlords saying a rent freeze would make them sell, which would eventually shrink the supply of rental houses and apartments and drive up rent. Several landlords wrote to tell the board they were already not going to increase rent.

Check here to read the public comments sent to the board. And check here to read Emily Bonilla’s plan in detail.


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Abe Aboraya

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