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California's November Ballot To Include Rent Control


Proponents of expanded rent control in California want voters to decide whether to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. More than 300 renters, landlords and housing advocates held marches Monday at the state Capitol and at the Los Angeles and Oakland city halls to officially turn in the more than 588,542 signatures collected to qualify the initiative for the November ballot.

The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act prohibits local communities from setting limits on rent increases on single-family homes, condos and apartments built after 1995. The proposed Affordable Housing Act would repeal the act and allow local municipalities to create their own rent control measures.

“We must protect renters from being kicked-out of their homes by unreasonable rents,” Los Angeles Tenants Union spokesperson Walt Senterfitt said in a statement.

Rent control supporters said Costa-Hawkins is one of the reasons rents have been too high in California, but opponents of rent control have long argued that expanding rent control will make it more difficult for developers to secure investors, who look at future rent growth to understand potential returns, and build more housing. 

“Costa Hawkins is a large and growing problem, because it exempts more units from rent protection each year that passes, causing hardship to increasing numbers of tenants,” Oakland City Council Member-at-Large Rebecca Kaplan said in a statement. “And, as many homes were bought up in large numbers by speculators during the foreclosure crisis, denying rent protections to tenants of these houses is worsening our housing crisis.”  

The California Apartment Association said rent control will not improve the housing crisis.

“This ballot measure will pour gasoline on the fire of California’s affordable housing crisis,” California Apartment Association CEO Tom Bannon said in a statement. “It will do exactly the opposite of what it promises — instead of helping Californians, it will result in an affordable housing freeze and higher costs.”

Bannon said the measure will stop new construction of affordable and middle-class housing as well as single-family homes.

“This measure also allows cities and towns to roll back protections for the most vulnerable Californians,” he said. “By making construction of affordable housing more difficult, this measure could hurt veterans, the elderly and low-income families — the people who need the most help with finding affordable housing.” 

He said the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s office said rent control will reduce the value of rental properties and single-family homes, which will drive down property tax revenues and reduce funding for services like schools, public safety, road repairs, education and fire safety.

County elections officials and the Secretary of State’s office will officially count the signatures to certify the Affordable Housing Act measure for the November ballot.

The Affordable Housing Act is sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and the Eviction Defense Network.