SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Four months after California voters rejected an effort to expand rent control, lawmakers are back with a proposal to loosen decades-old restrictions, allowing local governments to place more properties under rent control.
That bill and three others aimed at protecting renters - through anti-gouging caps, a statewide rental registry and eviction protections - follow unprecedented run-ups in market-rate rents over the past five years, particularly in the Bay Area. But some, if not all, are sure to be challenged by the same powerful real-estate interests that spent over $70 million to defeat Proposition 10 in November.
The renters' rights groups and anti-poverty advocates pushing the bills called on the Legislature to support the package.
"As we work to address California's extreme shortage of affordable housing, we must also prioritize the needs of low-income renters who are threatened with homelessness by skyrocketing rents," said Alexander Harnden, Policy Advocate at Western Center on Law & Poverty, in a news release.
Here is a look at the four bills introduced Thursday:
- Assembly Bill 1482, by David Chiu: This anti-rent-gouging bill as yet to assign a percentage to the allowable rent increase per year. It is now listed as "CPI+_ percent." This would only apply to units not already covered by local ordinances.
- Assembly Bill 36, Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica: This bill would loosen - but not repeal - a controversial state law known as Costa Hawkins, which makes it illegal for cities to impose rent controls on single-family homes, rented condominiums and apartments built after 1995 - or in some cases, even earlier. Under AB 36, cities would be allowed to place rent controls on buildings 10 years or older and on single-family homes - with the exception of landlords who own just one or two units.
Two years ago, Bloom introduced a bill to repeal Costa Hawkins. That bill died in its first committee hearing, paving the way for Proposition 10, the rent-control ballot measure that voters defeated, 59-41, in November.
Bloom acknowledged the challenge of amending the law, a polarizing issue in the state. "That will not be an easy conversation," he said Thursday, "but the conversation has already begun."
- Assembly Bill 1481, Rob Bonta, D-Oakland: Bonta is back this year with another attempt to require landlords statewide to give a reason for evicting a tenant, a policy embraced by tenants' rights groups known as "Just Cause for Evictions." Most cities with rent control regulations already have this policy on the books, but this would expand it across the state
- Assembly Bill 724, Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland: This bill would create a statewide rental registry, giving lawmakers and others better information about the number of rental units, evictions and rent increases.
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