Proposal that would allow eviction of felons stirs protest

- A proposal in San Jose could have anyone who rents in so-called high crime hot spots evicted if they are arrested for a felony crime.

"I believe if you have one bad apple it ruins the whole bowl," said San Jose City Councilman Johnny Khamis.

Khamis is proposing the change to make tenants sign a waiver that that if they're arrested, they'll lose their lease. Khamis says he hears over and over again from residents, they're fearful of reporting crime.

"Once we remove the criminals they'll feel free and much more empowered to call for help," explained the councilman.

"This is a civil rights issue and we are deeply concerned about this proposal," said community activist Marie Noel Fernandez. "The truth is there are lots of tools that landlords have to get rid of a bad tenant. It will have a real awful effect on communities."

Councilman Khamis said there is fine-tuning to do, to make sure victims of domestic violence aren't evicted because their spouses were arrested for felony domestic abuse. The issue isn't likely to come before the City Council until late November.

Meanwhile, San Jose is grappling with other rent issues such as rising rents and evictions. A group of concerned residents rallied outside a meeting of the Advisory Committee for the Apartment Rent Ordinance.

"We need to stop the rising cost of rents and we need to stop evictions," yelled a man holding a megaphone. "Otherwise you will have massive migration of the middle class."

"It's very difficult, especially if you're low income," explained Rose Wallis, who fought eviction once already. "And now they're telling me they want me out again...because I'm a Section 8 voucher holder."

Landlords can get higher rental fees on the open market. 

The Advisory Committee is looking at rent control caps and "just cause" evictions. Property manager Sandy Adams cautioned the city has been in this place before, and eventually the cycle turns.

"We couldn't reduce rents fast enough to keep them," Adams said of the past. "So that's what happens. The market is cyclical."

Some people have gotten creative to deal with the rising cost of housing. Mimi Hernandez is building an addition on her home for her three grown, employed daughters who can't afford Bay Area rents.

"So that they can still live in a good quality place close to home," Hernandez said. "It's just a sign of the times."

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