As tenant advocacy groups gather signatures to put rent-control reform on the November ballot, Santa Monica’s Rent Control Board is looking at the local possibilities if it succeeds. At their March meeting, the RCB expressed doubt it would be able to build consensus fast enough to draft a tandem measure to immediately expand its authority to either limit rents or expand rent control to more units if the Affordable Housing Act passes.
Costa Hawkins Act
Saying it needed more time for consideration, Santa Monica’s Rent Control Board Thursday tabled a motion calling for a measure on the November ballot to expand local rent control.
The motion asked the board to recommend a City measure for next fall’s election to expand rent control to apartment buildings that have seen many rents soar after the passage of the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act and, potentially, to others not covered by rent control.
A “yes” vote would have sent the final decision to the City Council.
A ballot initiative could relieve Californians squeezed by rising rent prices. The initiative, led by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, is pushing to repeal the state's 1995 Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which prevents rent control from being applied to all housing built after 1995.
Even if cities pass rent control today, such measures won’t apply to apartments that are at least 23 years old or to houses or condos of any age. But if a group of activists gets their way, California voters will have the ability to eliminate those restrictions next November. A ballot-initiative drive is underway to repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Act, which severely limits rent control in the state. The law prohibits rent control for condominiums, single-family homes or new construction — anything built after 1995 or after a city first established rent control.
Clipboards in hand, signature-gatherers are fanning out across four Southern California cities this month, turning up at supermarkets and metro stops and apartment complexes to pitch a measure for the November ballot that they say will be salvation for renters.
But for landlords, their pitch is blasphemy.
At issue is whether the cities of Long Beach, Inglewood, Glendale and Pasadena should join a tiny band of California cities that already have rent control and “just cause” eviction laws that prevent landlords from ousting tenants in good standing.
The Board of Directors of Pasadenans Organizing for Progress voted unanimously Tuesday to fully endorse the Pasadena Tenants Union initiative campaign to amend the Pasadena City Charter to establish rent control. The Amendment would also establish a Rental Housing Board and establish just cause eviction criteria according to which tenants may be evicted.
Delaine Eastin is the only major candidate for California governor to unequivocally support a potential November ballot measure that would allow stronger local rent control laws across the state.
Eastin, a Democrat and former state schools chief, said she supports the outright repeal of the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which prevents rent control ordinances from applying to housing built after 1995, as well as single-family homes, duplexes and condos.
Martha Simmons was born at San Francisco General Hospital, and raised in the Bayview. For nine-and-a-half years, she rented a single-family home in the neighborhood where she grew up, paying the not-cheap price of $3,300 a month for a two-bedroom house. But she could make ends meet, and a decade ago, was even in talks with the owner about a rent-to-buy situation.
California’s statewide renters’ rights organization today announced its formal support for a proposed state ballot measure to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act and allow cities to pass stronger tenant protections.
“Tenants Together and our member organizations across the state have been fighting for years to pass local rent control laws and dismantle state barriers like Costa-Hawkins and the Ellis Act,” noted Dean Preston, Executive Director of Tenants Together. “Costa-Hawkins has been a complete disaster and it needs to be repealed now.”
After garnering more than 100,000 signatures within the last month, the initiative to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act — a 1995 state law that limits the scope of local rent control ordinances — is likely to appear on November’s ballot.
The Costa-Hawkins Act prohibits cities from establishing rent control on certain units, including single-family dwellings, condominiums and housing built after 1995. It also has a “vacancy decontrol” provision that allows rent to increase after a tenant moves out.