“Battle lines are forming over what could be one of the most contentious fights about housing in California in decades.
I’m talking about Proposition 10, the November ballot initiative that would overturn California’s Costa-Hawkins Rent Control Act and let local governments impose any form of rent control on any type of rental housing within their jurisdictions.
“The future of California is at stake here,” said Ken Rosen, chairman of the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Economics at UC Berkeley and a fierce opponent of the measure.
What the measure boils down to is whether housing “is an essential, like a human right — something that everyone needs and deserves, or whether one views housing as just another commodity that should be bought and sold and rented without limits,” said Prop. 10 supporter Dean Preston, executive director of Tenants Together, a statewide nonprofit for renters rights.
The Legislature passed Costa-Hawkins in 1995, after some cities had enacted aggressive rent control rules in response to housing shortages and affordability issues. The law said cities (and counties for their unincorporated areas) could limit rent increases — what we think of as rent control. But it said rent control could not apply to single-family homes or condos of any age or to multifamily buildings first occupied after Feb. 1, 1995 (or earlier if a city already had rent control with a previous cutoff date).
It also said owners of rent-controlled properties could charge whatever they want after a tenant moves out, but once the new tenant moves in, rent increases would be subject to the annual limit. This is known as vacancy decontrol.
If Prop. 10 passes, local jurisdictions could impose rent control on all property types, including single-family properties and new construction. They also could prevent landlords from charging whatever they want when a unit turns over. This is known as vacancy control.”