SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – As rents continue to skyrocket across San Diego, calls for rent control are growing louder.

A group calling for an “emergency rent control ordinance” in San Diego on Wednesday rallied outside City Hall – just as the average monthly rent in San Diego County set a record high.

While not everyone agrees that a legal cap on rent increases will be beneficial, demonstrators believe it would be and amassed 11,000 signatures on a petition they plan to present at next week’s Land Use Committee meeting.

Their hope is to eventually place the ordinance to a full City Council vote.

Catherine Mendonca has rented in City Heights for the past six years and fears that skyrocketing rents will force her and other longtime residents out – changing the character of the neighborhood.

“My community is my family. City Heights is my family – that’s my neighborhood. I want to preserve the community that I built,” she said.

The average rent in San Diego County recently hit a new record high: $1,887 a month in March – an eight percent increase over last year.

San Diegans like Tracy Semrow said some landlords force out long-time tenants, especially if they ask for necessary repairs.

“Once they kick them out, they can do cheap cosmetic repairs to the place and they can rent it back out for $500 more a month. I got to be one those lucky people who experienced that,” he said.

Earlier this year, in Sacramento, state legislation that would have expanded rent control in California failed.

Demonstrators at City Hall said they fear that without caps on rent increases, those who can least afford it will suffer most.

“This is pushing people into the streets – into homelessness, out of the county, out of the state, out of the city,” said Rafael Bautista.

While the state legislature failed to expand rent control earlier this year, advocates are now collecting signatures for a possible ballot measure this coming November. That measure would repeal a current state law (called Costa-Hawkins) that prohibits rent control on apartments built after February 1995. 

The emergency rent control ordinance, which Wednesday’s demonstrators called for, is something that has already been passed in several California cities, including: Beverly Hills, Alameda and Santa Cruz.