A November ballot initiative that would allow cities to enact strong rent control across California is widely unpopular, even among renters, according to a new Public Policy Institute of California poll. Roughly half of likely voters — 48 percent — oppose Proposition 10, according to the poll — the first conducted on the measure. Just 36 percent are in favor and 16 percent are undecided, the poll found. Proposition 10 would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, passed by California lawmakers in 1995 and restore the ability of cities across the state to enact strong rent control laws.

Currently, the state says cities with some form of rent control — there are at least 15 in California — cannot strengthen their existing ordinances, and new rent control laws cannot apply to a large share of California’s housing supply, including single-family homes, condos and anything built after 1995. Backlash to rising housing costs across the state, and concerns about rampant displacement of low-income tenants and communities of color, prompted renter advocates to advance the ballot measure. But support for it is lagging, even among renters. A slight majority of renters — 51 percent — said they’d vote against the measure, while 43 percent said they’d vote in favor.

“Given the amount of attention to housing affordability and the stress it’s causing, you would expect it to start out with more support,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “This might be an issue that Democrats rally around, but not (one) that (is) important to people.”

“Whereas many Californians feel that housing is one of our top issues today, people are not making the connection between Prop. 10 and the cost of housing,” Baldassare said. “When there are so many questions, it’s easier to just vote ‘no’ and hope there’s another (way) to solve it.”

Support for the measure is greatest in Los Angeles, the poll found, with 45 percent of likely voters saying they’d vote in favor. The Central Valley ranked second highest in support among likely voters, with 39 percent.

Opposition to the measure is highest in California’s Inland Empire, where just 29 percent of likely voters support it, and 51 percent are opposed. In the San Francisco Bay Area, with a high concentration of rent-controlled cities, just a third of likely voters support the measure.

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