Costa Hawkins Officially on November Ballot

As of June 15th, the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act will officially be up for repeal on California’s November ballot.  The Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act is probably familiar to most housing advocates. However, in case you are a recent transplant or a newbie to rent control policy, SCANPH can catch you up to speed with what the law means and how it came to be. In 1995, the California legislature locked in place local rental control requirements. The controversial policy passed by just one vote.  This meant three things according to Tenants Together:

•    Cities that passed rent control before 1995 cannot cover construction from the date their ordinance passed (up to 1995). In Los Angeles, this date is 1978. 
•    Cities cannot extend rental control to any condos, single-family homes, and any houses built after 1995.
•    Cities cannot pass vacancy control – if a tenant leaves or is forced out of a rent-controlled unit, a landlord can raise the rent however much they want for the new tenant. 

Originally, the logic behind Costa Hawkins was that freezing rent control would induce developers to build more housing. More housing would translate into lower rent prices. Unfortunately, 23 years later this is obviously not the case. California has a housing crisis and affordable rent is unattainable to the majority of the population and cities are unable to enact rent control.  

Supporters of Costa Hawkins fret that rent control will motivate landlords to convert apartments into condos, or redevelop the property entirely, which will cause an even further decrease in available housing. However, repealing Costa Hawkins will give city leaders new options when establishing or updating rent control policies. Local governments would have the choice to address their local housing needs by placing newer buildings under rent control regulations. As it currently stands, less than 20 cities have rent control regulations.

Jeannette BrownComment