Met by the applause of tenant advocates, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted 4-1 in favor of an ordinance to cap rent increases to 3 percent per year in unincorporated areas and freeze the rents at current levels.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who co-authored the ordinance with Hilda Solis, said it was a good short-term solution as leaders consider more lasting changes to ease the region’s housing and homeless crises.
“They look at 58,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County and they say, ‘Why?’” Kuehl said, referring to policymakers. She added older residents are particularly vulnerable to rent hikes. According to the latest homeless count in L.A., there was a 22 percent increase in homeless people 62 year of age or older from the year prior, City News Service reported.
Supervisors will vote on the ordinance again in 60 days, and, if approved, will take effect 30 days later. It would freeze rents at the Sept. 11 rates for six months.
The dissenting vote Tuesday came from Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “I do not believe rent control is the right way to go,” Barger said. She said she would vote in favor of the ordinance if the board accepted her amendment to allow landlords to “bank” increases and give them more latitude to evict tenants.
Still, some see it as a quick fix to a larger problem, while other think even a temporary cap fixes nothing.
“Limiting rent increases cannot fully solve the housing crisis confronting much of urban California, but rent regulations are one tool to deal with sharp upticks in rent and have less deleterious effects than is often imagined,” said USC Professor Manuel Pastor.
“Rent control is bad economic policy. It creates disincentives to new construction, results in the deterioration of existing units, and does nothing to produce more housing, which is what is needed,” said real estate attorney Alex Schwada.
This November, California voters will vote on Prop 10, which, if passed, would repeal the state’s Costa-Hawkins Act and effectively allow local governments to implement rent control.