More than 700 signatures on rent petition
One week after she went public with her petition to stabilize rent and, as of Wednesday, “Nicole” has already collected 776 signatures to help her cause.
“We’re getting about 100 signatures a day just by e-petition,” said Speak Up Odessa organizer “Nicole,” who is using an alias to protect her from any retaliation from her apartment complex.
“It’s been growing pretty rapidly,” Nicole added.
Speak Up Odessa began as a local effort to convince Odessa City Council members to pass a rent stabilization or rent control ordinance to combat rising rent.
According to the Odessa Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 Apartment Survey, the average price of rent in Odessa was $810 in July. The average rent in Texas was $819 in July, according to ALN Apartment Data.
Because rent control laws are state mandated, Nicole has expanded her petition to include all Texas residents and now wants to see action in the legislature.
“There’s nothing Odessa can do about it,” Nicole said.
Nicole has set up her fight against the Texas Attorney General’s Office. She wants to present the petition to them by the end of September.
Attorney General Representatives said the office has no control in creating new laws.
Calls to local legislative representatives were not returned as of press time Wednesday.
Nicole said she has also tried to contact U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway but received no calls back.
While she tries to reach the state, Nicole has expanded her efforts in Odessa.
She said she is trying to speak with local businesses to sign the petition, as many employers struggle to pay employees with high rents.
“Rent is so high that they can’t afford employees,” Nicole said.
Nicole is also planning on taking her petition from the web to the streets of Odessa and said that people can begin signing a paper petition by next weekend.
“We’re trying to make this as convenient as possible for people to sign,” Nicole said.
But while Nicole continues her fight against increasing rents, some say the task is futile.
“It’s utterly ridiculous,” Local radio host Jason Moore said. “It’s a violation of principle if you believe in the free market system, and I would say that those that are supportive of something like this don’t know the history of what’s happened everywhere it’s tried.”
Moore said to get an immediate effect on rent, Nicole should instead approach the taxing entities and ask them to lower the tax rate below the effective tax rate.
“It will be an immediate reduction of the cost of property in Odessa,” Moore said.
Texas Apartment Association Vice President of Government Affairs David Mintz said in his 20 years working with the TAA, he has never come across a statewide effort to establish rent control laws.
“I think part of it fundamentally rent control doesn’t work,” Mintz said. “It’s just like any other commodity, but the reality of it is you want a situation where owners are able to recover costs and able to put money back into the property.”
“We live in a market society. Just as the cost of houses has gone up in the region, you’re not going to put a cap on the cost,” Mintz added.
Despite some resistance against such a petition, Nicole said she is ready for the challenge.
“That’s the whole purpose of this. We as citizens of Odessa, we have a voice,” Nicole said. “We don’t have to lay back and take it. California has rent laws, New York has rent laws. They are doing well. Places like that are thriving and people are enjoying living in those communities. I want Odessa to get back to being like that.”
Source: Odessa American