News and Views

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.
  • Costa Hawkins Act
When Congress voted last year to sharply reduce corporate income taxes, it undermined the nation’s largest subsidized housing program. This week’s federal spending compromise may help shore it up. The program, called the low-income housing tax credit, enables corporations to lower their taxes by helping to finance low-cost housing. Lower corporate tax rates made the credit less useful, alarming developers and agencies that provide housing for the poor in rural America and large cities.
  • Affordable housing
A moratorium on what some are calling a loophole to Oakland’s rent control ordinances is being extended another six months as city officials figure out a permanent solution. Before the moratorium, the exemption allowed landlords to raise rents after making repairs to their property. City Council members voted Tuesday for the extension, which will go into effect after the original moratorium — passed in November — expires. It is scheduled for a final reading April 17.
  • Rent control
  • Alameda
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.
  • Costa Hawkins Act
  • San Diego
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.
  • Costa Hawkins Act
  • Los Angeles
The steps up to Sarah Johnson’s apartment are decorated with sand dollars that she collects, often on walks with her grandson. Inside, light streams into her living room, which she likes, because it makes her feel almost like she’s outside.
  • Rent increases
  • Eviction
  • San Francisco
When Sarah Johnson decided last year to leave behind a career at San Francisco State University that spanned three decades, she did not think that her retirement would come at the cost of her home. Four years ago, Johnson moved into a one-bedroom apartment in University Park South, which contains 145 SF State-owned apartments located across the street from the main campus at 1900 Holloway Ave. Of those units, 51 that are set aside specifically for faculty and staff. Johnson hoped this would be the last move that she would have to make.
  • Rent increases
  • Eviction
  • San Francisco
After hearing from anxious landlords and tenants, Santa Monica’s Rent Control Board on Thursday asked staff to explore if -- and by how much -- both can share the rising costs of surcharges property owners now pass through to renters. The board ordered more analysis on the possibility of instituting a cap on the total in surcharges the renters can absorb, based, for example, on total rent paid. These surcharges rise in buildings that are reassessed when they sell.
  • Rent control
  • Los Angeles
The Pasadena Tenants Union (PTU) was scheduled to host a meeting this week on the local rent control movement. Fifty-seven percent of Pasadena residents are renters, according to the PTU, and 42.9 percent are homeowners. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Pasadena has risen more than 51.7 percent in the past six years, with rents on some one bedroom apartments totaling as much as $2,200.
  • Rent control
  • Los Angeles
In 2017, with virtually no fanfare, the appellate division of the Los Angeles County Superior Court wiped out a critical piece of West Hollywood’s rent stabilization ordinance. The provision allowed tenants to get reimbursed for attorney fees when victorious in standing up for their rights during eviction proceedings. Because of this provision, tenants in West Hollywood were more likely to have a lawyer with them and, consequently, were some of the least likely tenants in California to be evicted and become homeless.
  • Eviction
Faced with the mounting possibility that a rent control ordinance could get the required amount of signatures to qualify for the ballot this November the Long Beach City Council is taking proactive measures to address questions that surround the proposed policy.
  • Rent control
  • Los Angeles
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.
  • Rent control
  • Costa Hawkins Act
  • Los Angeles
Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker said Tuesday that she and Centro Legal de la Raza have filed suit against a landlord who they allege attempted to illegally increase his tenant's rent by pretending he had moved into the downstairs unit of a duplex. Parker said such schemes have become common as Oakland's housing crisis persists, with some landlords using sham "owner move-ins" as a tactic to evade Oakland's just cause for eviction and rent control laws.
  • Rent increases
  • Rent control
  • Eviction
  • Alameda
“Rent control is a moral, ethical, and human issue,” said tenant organizer Walter Senterfitt Tuesday evening, in laying out his position at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California Pasadena/Foothills Chapter Forum on rent control. Continued Senterfitt, “Rent control is a human right,” as he laid out a brief history of rent control in Southern California. Senterfitt was joined at the speakers table by Allison Henry of the Pasadena Tenants Union and attorney Frank Broccolo.
  • Rent control
  • Tenant organizing
  • Los Angeles
A City Council request for answers about how rent control could impact Long Beach and its government brought both sides of the issue out to state their cases Tuesday night. Fourth District Councilman Daryl Supernaw brought the matter to the council, saying the city needs answers before a petition drive puts rent control on the ballot. The move was in response to a petition drive organized by Housing Long Beach. The proposition, which is in the signature-gathering stage, would impose rent control citywide.
  • Rent control
  • Los Angeles
A San Diego group is calling for the city to take emergency action to help control the ever-rising cost to rent. San Diego Tenants United plans to speak to the Smart Growth and Land Use Committee during public comment Tuesday. The tenant group will ask the committee to invoke a government code that would slow the rate of rent increase. The group says San Diego policymakers have made it easier to build housing over the last year and now it’s time to start protecting renters.
  • Rent control
  • San Diego
One day after Orange County supervisors voted to spend more than $70 million to house the homeless, residents in three prosperous cities expressed alarm about a proposal to set up "camp" shelters in their communities. Besides creating permanent housing, the officials' plans call for possible camps in Irvine, Laguna Niguel and Huntington Beach on county-owned land. The Irvine City Council voted unanimously late Tuesday to sue the county to stop the proposal.
  • Affordable housing
  • Orange
"I was surprised by the lack of empathy,” Carrie Merino said. “I would say, ‘I’m a single mom with three kids and I have a job so I can pay the rent. I just don’t have three times the amount of income you require to qualify.’ ”
  • Affordable housing
The Wisconsin Legislature has passed a Republican bill to protect landlords. The Senate passed the measure 18-14 Tuesday. It allows local governments to inspect rental properties only in blighted areas with numerous complaints, decreasing values or increases in single-family home conversions to rental units. If an inspection doesn't reveal a violation or the violation is fixed within a month inspectors couldn't return to the property for five years. Inspection fees would be waived in either case.
  • Beyond California
  • Housing conditions/habitability
The Seattle City Council voted Monday to impose a one-year moratorium on rent-bidding platforms, which allow landlords to take competing bids from prospective tenants and then sign leases with the highest bidders — a little bit like eBay, but for apartments. The council began looking at the platforms after the board of directors of the Associated Students of the University of Washington approved a student-senate resolution calling on the city to ban them.
  • Beyond California
  • Finding/applying for rental housing

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