Local Victories Power California Tenant Movement, Despite Prop. 10 Loss

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Proposition 10, the proposed initiative to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, was stymied at the state ballot Tuesday thanks to an unprecedented $74 million in real estate industry opposition money, but there were also victories for rent control at local ballots across California.

In Oakland, voters approved Measure Y to close eviction loopholes, a significant expansion of Oakland’s local eviction protections to cover thousands of smaller buildings that were previously exempt. Nearby in the city of Alameda, renters defeated Measure K, a real-estate industry measure to preempt rent control efforts, despite heavy spending in favor. Measure K was a trial balloon by the real estate industry of a recent strategy to gut local momentum for rent control and its failure has statewide significance. A similar measure by landlords in Mountain View was successfully blocked from appearing on the 2018 ballot earlier this year. In Santa Cruz and National City, housing justice activists put grassroots rent control campaigns on the ballot for the very first time in their cities’ history, despite facing 10:1 spending from real estate opposition.

In 2018, ten California municipalities gathered signatures, most for the first time, to put rent control on the ballot. With rent control maintaining broad popularity across the California electorate, more campaigns plan to launch for local rent control expansions, including the Sacramento rent control ballot measure already confirmed to appear on the November 2020 ballot. Los Angeles County is poised to adopt rent increase limits at a meeting next week, one of the most extensive expansions of renter protections in recent history. Meanwhile, a recent Los Angeles Times poll showed that “lack of rent control” was cited by Californians as the primary reason why housing in California remains unaffordable.

There are 463 cities in California that can adopt rent control and just cause for eviction protections right now, regardless of the outcome of Prop. 10. Check out this map to get involved in a local campaign for rent control now or get resources to start your own. These fights are not easy for tenant organizers, but the only way we will win long-term community control of land and housing is through sustained organizing from the bottom up.

It's important to remember that most CA voters support rent control, as shown by every major poll over the last decade. We know rent control works to stabilize communities and prevent displacement.

The fight isn't just about rent control, but also about building power. Tenants are finding strength in numbers and building power for themselves. With rent strikes from the East Bay to Los Angeles and direct actions that confront serial evictors and the banks that fund them, the momentum for direct action is growing tremendously in 2018 and beyond.

We want to thank the hundreds of organizations and allies statewide who came together to support Prop. 10. Labor, faith-based organizations, community groups, and political leaders came together in a broad, unprecedented coalition to stand up to the real estate industry. We'll be back.


Tenants Together is a statewide coalition of local tenant organizations dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of California tenants to safe, decent and affordable housing. As California’s only statewide renters' rights organization, Tenants Together works to improve the lives of California’s tenants through education, organizing and advocacy. Tenants Together seeks to support and strengthen the statewide movement for renters’ rights.

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