“A core selling point of federalism is that it enables those ill-treated by one government body to “vote with their feet” toward less abusive jurisdictions. That is a good reason for reserving some political policy determinations to the state rather than national government, or to local rather than state government. However, devolving political power to lower level governments does not serve citizens’ rights when it comes to rent control, because rent control paralyzes owners’ ability to escape imposed burdens by voting with their feet.

Why is this an issue in California today? The 1994 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act took the power to impose new rent controls out of local government hands (joining a majority of states that restrict local rent control). That decision is currently under attack. The Affordable Housing Act ballot initiative on the November ballot would move rent control decisions back to local governments. That raises the question of whether rent control policy should be vested at the state or local level.”

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