Costa Hawkins Act
In November, California voters could repeal a controversial 1995 housing law that limited rent control across the state. Cities like Berkeley, which has one of the most comprehensive rent-control policies around, will face decisions about what to do with their housing if the law is repealed.
Movements for renter power are gaining strength. Even just a few years ago discussion of any type of rent regulation was a non-starter. Now, new rent control laws are passing and a measure is headed to the ballot to repeal Costa Hawkins, the industry created state law that severely limits local rent control.
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.
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.